Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: January 15, 2015
Sen. Ron Sharp
Bill filed modifying
Reading Sufficiency Act
Sen. Ron Sharp filed legislation
Thursday to strengthen Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act
to ensure more Oklahoma students have the reading skills necessary
to be promoted to the fourth grade. Senate Bill 221 will make Student
Reading Proficiency Teams a permanent component in third grade retention
and promotion decisions as well as provide more guidance for public
schools about summer reading academies.
“Being able to read is the most important skill a child can
learn and it’s crucial to their success in school and in life.
We must provide every opportunity for those third graders struggling
with reading to improve their skills,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee.
“The Student Reading Proficiency Teams, created last session,
have proved extremely beneficial in the RSA process and this bill
will allow them to continue. The summer reading academies have also
been helpful to students but after talking to school officials it
was apparent that they needed further guidelines to improve student
Under SB 221, school districts will be allowed to refer students
scoring “unsatisfactory” on the third grade reading
test to a summer reading academy. The academy will consist of 80
hours and a student must score “proficient” or “limited
knowledge” on a screening instrument in order to be promoted
to the fourth grade. The legislation also allows a school district
to contract with a private vendor to administer the summer academy
or to provide a regional summer academy.
Rep. Jon Echols will be serving as the House author.
“This bill will not lead to social promotion but will, for
the first time, set up a solid program to help teach children to
read. It is a great leap forward in not just identifying a reading
problem, but presenting a solution that will help teach children
to read,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City.
The legislation also removes the two-year limit on the Student Reading
Proficiency Team that was introduced under HB 2625 last session.
Under that bill, the team (consisting of the parent, teacher, principal
and a Reading Specialist) was allowed to recommend probationary
promotion for students who had not demonstrated third grade reading
proficiency. SB 221 makes the teams, which were set to expire this
year, permanent and directs that they consider certain information,
like classroom performance or personal events, before making their
recommendation for probationary promotion.
“My main goal with this bill is to give parents more options
should their child fail the reading test. First, they can place
their child in a summer reading academy and ensure that their child
meets the attendance requirements giving them the opportunity to
retake the test. Then should the child fail the reading test again,
the parents can still vote, as part of the Student Reading Proficiency
Team, to have their child promoted. If the parents don’t take
advantage of either of these options, the child will be retained
in the third grade,” Sharp explained.
Sharp worked with parents, state education officials, local teachers
and school administrators including Choctaw/Nicoma Park Assistant
Superintendent Meda Beall and Dale Public Schools Superintendent
Charlie Dickinson in drafting SB 221.
“By making the Student Reading Proficiency Team a permanent
component in third grade retention and promotion decisions, this
bill recognizes the importance of reading proficiency to student
success and acknowledges the essential role of parents and educators
who best know the child,” said Beall. “This team can
analyze the performance and needs of the whole child rather than
basing such an important decision only on the child’s performance
on a standardized test. Students aren’t standardized. They
are individuals with individual needs and they come with a wide
variety of abilities, issues and experiences. While assessments
must be given major consideration, so must other factors such as
school performance, cognitive level and other life events.”
Dickinson said the bill provides local control by parents and educators
when it comes to promotion decisions.
“We all know that being able to read is essential for students’
success as they move forward in their education. However, there
are always extenuating circumstances that come into play and educators
and parents must be given the ability to do what's right for individual
students,” said Dickinson.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5539