Bill to pause reading retention – and reinstate it for next year’s 4th graders – on committee agenda

The Senate Education & Workforce Committee announced late Tuesday that it would take up a revised version of SB 265 at a hearing today, considering new language that would delay the implementation of third-grade reading retention – only to have it apply to BOTH 3rd and 4th graders next year.

The originally introduced version of SB 265 would have simply delayed implementation of the controversial third grade reading bill by a year.  While not a good permanent solution, MEA supported that language as a first step given the pandemic.  MEA strongly opposes today’s substitute language adding the new 4th grade retention for this year’s 3rd graders who are at least one-year behind on state standardized testing.

Research has shown that retaining students does not improve long-term reading proficiency and disproportionately impacts poorer students and students of color.  Instead of investing in real interventions that will work to help students read, Senate Republicans want to double down on this failed retention strategy for two years’ worth of students.

The bill was originally part of a package of legislation introduced earlier this spring.  This bill and another, SB 268 (giving parents discretion over a student repeating a grade), will be removed from that package for consideration by the committee today.  Two other bills from that package – SBs 56 & 57, which would make critical changes to teacher evaluations by reducing the weight of standardized testing in that process – are not being taken up in committee, despite urgent need for this legislation as the school year winds down.

Contact your State Senator today! Urge them to support the original version of SB 265 and delay, rather than expand, third grade reading retention – and urge them to break the tie bars and take up SB 56-57 on teacher evaluation immediately as well.


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