SC Senate Debating Holding Back Students Not Reading at Grade Level
By Robert Kittle, WJBF South Carolina Capitol reporter - email
Columbia, SC -
The South Carolina Senate debated a bill Tuesday that would hold back students who aren’t reading at grade level at the end of third grade. Senators did not take a vote and debate is scheduled to continue Wednesday.
The “Read to Succeed Act” would provide students who are held back with intensive reading help to get them caught up. Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, the lead sponsor of the bill, says the goal is not to hold students back, though.
“We have early intervention in there, reading coaches, summer reading camps, trying to identify the struggling readers at an earlier age to where we won't have to hold any students back," he says.
One of the concerns is the cost, and whether the law would be an unfunded mandate for school districts. Sen. Peeler says the money to cover the cost is in the version of next year’s state budget that the House has already passed and that is now in the Senate Finance Committee.
He says 31 states have similar laws, and studies show that a student not reading at grade level at the end of third grade is six times more likely to drop out of high school.
The bill also puts new training requirements on elementary teachers so they’ll know better how to identify and help struggling readers. Sen. Peeler says the cost of that training was another concern, but he has an amendment to the bill that would have ETV and the state Department of Education provide the training at no cost to the teachers.