MORE LEGISLATION COMING
Some legislators are questioning the implementation of the law. Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, filed HB 2565 for this session seeking to reset the clock on the act until proper funding is in place for its initiatives. The legislative session begins Feb. 4 and it is not known yet whether this bill will be assigned to a committee for a hearing.
“Oklahoma students must be reading at grade level, there’s no doubt about that,” Shelton said, “and the Reading Sufficiency Act has the best of intentions behind it. However, the state has failed to fund this initiative and hundreds of Oklahoma third graders will be held back this year because the Legislature has failed to do its job. My legislation simply resets the clock on the Reading Sufficiency Act to give schools and students more time to prepare before this law takes effect.”
Shelton said teachers are not to blame.
“They are stretched thin across the state,” Shelton said. “It is imperative that we make the necessary resources available to teachers and schools so our children can be successful. Let’s take the time to fix the Legislature’s shortcoming with this bill, pass HB 2565, and reset the clock on the Reading Sufficiency Act.”
Although, Sen. Jolley disagrees with the purpose behind Shelton’s bill.
“Rep. Shelton’s bill to require ‘proper funding’ is a simple way to try to derail the reform since there likely will never be an agreement that anything in public education is ‘properly funded’,” Jolley said. “Rep. Shelton’s efforts should be viewed as what they are: An attempt to not implement this reform.”
Edmond’s Executive Director of Elementary Education Ruthie Riggs said, “We know that a student’s success in life is greatly affected by their ability to read, and we want to make sure we have done everything possible to build those foundational reading skills.”
The new law addressing Reading Sufficiency states whether a student will be retained or not depends on if they get an unsatisfactory on the reading test.
Even though the law was established in 2010-11 retention went into effect this year for students who made an “Unsatisfactory” on the test, Fair said.
“The law required us to have a plan, but we had a plan before that,” Fair said, “and exemptions were made to be part of the law.”
The exemptions are a part of the statute and were crafted from the beginning to make sure that students who should not be expected to be subject to the social promotion law will be exempted from those expectations, Jolley said.
Jolley said Exemption 6 is possibly being modified to require the two years of intensive remediation but no longer require the previous retention element. The exemption states that even if a student was previously retained in a prior grade and they still are not at grade reading level, they could be retained again after third grade.
“I have a bill to make that change,” said Jolley, who announced this week that he plans to run for the 5th District congressional seat.