Louisiana Legislature passes law requiring 3rd graders to pass a literacy test to be promoted to the 4th grade

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The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday afternoon gave final legislative approval to a bill that attempts to improve reading scores. The legislation would require public school third graders to pass a reading test in April in order to to be promoted to the fourth grade.

“At the first screening, if it appears the child is not going to be at the appropriate reading level, they will go into intensive instruction, they will have the option of taking another screening or they would be retained,” said Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell.

The Republican from the Louisiana Northshore carried the bill in the Senate for Mandeville Representative Richard Nelson, who authored the legislation.

The legislation gives third graders three chances to pass the literacy test. Students diagnosed with dyslexia and kids still learning English could still be promoted to the fourth grade. Gonzales Senator Ed Price voted against the bill as he believes it’s an unfunded mandate.

“How are we going to put this program in place without the funding, when we have systems laying off teachers right now, because they don’t have the funding,” said Price.

Mississippi has a similar program and they’ve seen an increase in reading scores.

Louisiana has among the lowest literacy rates in the nation and Mizell says if the state can improve a child’s ability to read, it will lead to better outcomes later in life.

“I guarantee you the most of the kids are picked up for crime are not literate, I guarantee you there is a literacy problem that’s spawning a lot of the problems we see,” said Mizell.

Nelson’s legislation failed to get approval last week, but this year he gets it across the finish line during the final week of the legislative session. The measure heads to the governor’s desk. If Governor John Bel Edwards signs the bill, the first literacy tests for promotion will be administered in April 2025.

 

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