The Oklahoma Education Association commends Sen. Ron Sharp and Reps. Jon Echols and Katie Henke for introducing bills this session that would make permanent last year’s changes to the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA).
Prior to Rep. Henke’s 2014 legislation on this topic, local schools were required by the state to hold back a third grader who scored poorly on a single high stakes reading test without taking into consideration any extenuating circumstances or individual factors. Last session, the legislature not only passed House Bill 2625
remedying the draconian policy, but they responded to overwhelming requests from parents and teachers and overrode Gov. Fallin’s veto of the bill.
Senate Bill 221 (Sharp/Echols) and a similar bill to be introduced today by Rep. Henke aim to make permanent last year’s changes, which only remedied the problem for two school years. The bills allow a team consisting of the parent, third grade teacher, fourth
grade teacher, reading specialist, principal and superintendent to unanimously decide to promote a student when they have reason to believe the test scores alone are not indicative of a student’s ability to succeed in the fourth grade. It also requires significant extra time and attention be spent helping that child improve and succeed the following year.
“Students are not a product on an assembly line,” says OEA President Linda Hampton, “They deserve an education that is specific to their own abilities and needs. Parents and teachers know and want what’s best for their students and this legislation gives them a say in these important decisions.”
Making permanent last session’s changes to the RSA is but one of many opportunities before the legislature this year to improve the education we provide Oklahoma’s public school students. OEA thanks Rep. Henke, Rep. Echols and Sen. Sharp for their leadership on this important issue.