Wednesday, May 4, 2011

OK Governor Signs Update to Reading Sufficiency Act

Today, May 4, 2011 Governor Fallin signed SB 346 into law. The committee substitute to Senate Bill 346 specifies that starting with students entering first grade in the 2011-2012 school year, the program of reading instruction must include provisions of the READ Initiative adopted by the school district, as instructed in the measure.
Starting with students entering the first grade in the 2011-12 school year, if a reading deficiency is not remedied by the end of third grade, as demonstrated by scoring at the limited knowledge level on annual assessments, the student must be retained in third grade.
Districts must notify parents their child has a reading deficiency, services provided and that the student will be retained if the deficiency isn’t remedied.
Administrators may promote students for good cause such as limited English proficient students and students with disabilities. Students may be promoted if they perform at a certain level on alternative assessments or if they demonstrate mastery through a student portfolio. Students also may be promoted if they receive intensive remediation in reading for two or more years but still demonstrate a deficiency and were previously retained in kindergarten, first grade, second grade or third grade for a total of two years. Those students must have an altered instructional day that includes reading instruction specific to their needs.
Students not promoted must receive intensive reading instruction including methods such as tutoring or mentoring, an extended school day or week or year, summer reading camps or reduced teacher-student ratios.
Districts must have a policy for midyear promotion of students if necessary.
Districts must establish a Reading Enhancement and Acceleration Development Initiative to prevent the retention of third grade students and to offer intensive accelerated reading instruction to third grade students who failed to meet standards for promotion and to each kindergarten through third grade student who is assessed as having a reading deficiency.
The State Department of Education’s current funding for Reading Sufficiency programs will sufficiently cover the cost of remediating the students described in the measure through summer reading academies and other programs (such as the READ Initiative).  Costs of retaining students in the third grade will be offset by the reduction in fourth grade classrooms.  Additionally, the program may yield savings in reducing the number of referrals for special education.
The budget limits bill typically allocates approximately $7 million to the Reading Sufficiency Act ($3 million being alloted for the Summer Academy Reading Program).  With the absence of a budget limits bill last year, rather than proportionately cutting the RSA funding, the State Board chose to zero out the funding for FY-11. Additional 3rd grade materials would cost $193,725.

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