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Alabama state superintendent supports literacy act delay, policy holds 3rd graders back who don’t read at grade level

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:58 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The state superintendent says he does support Governor Kay Ivey’s call to delay a new policy that would hold back third graders who aren’t reading at grade level.

The latest round of test scores revealed a blow to student proficiency in multiple subjects.

Dr. Eric Mackey blamed the pandemic and said students needed time to recover.

“It will take us multiple years, 3 to 4 years, to make up for what happened in the 2020-2021 school year,” Mackey said.

Mackey said the retention portion of the Alabama Literacy Act needed to be delayed. The law requires 3rd graders to read at grade level or be held back.

However, Mackey said other portions of the law should continue.

“All the other things that go with the literacy act, all of the interventions we’re doing, all the teacher professional development, the on the ground assessments that teachers are doing, those things continue to move forward,” Mackey said.

The latest round of testing showed students were struggling with only about 51% of 3rd graders considered proficient in English language arts.

Mackey said students not being in the classroom due to the pandemic caused the disruption in learning.

In the meantime, Mackey explained schools were conducting mini literacy tests to see where students were and parents had access to those scores.

Mackey said the summer months would also be pivotal in getting students caught up.

“Reading camps, summer programming, special activities to help students close the gap and catch up. We want students to not feel like it’s punishment. We want them to understand that it’s opportunity,” Mackey said.

Mackey said if the school year continued to go well and scores improved in the next round of testing, which would be in April and May 2022, the new policy could go into effect in a year.

It’s up to the legislature to decide if the Alabama Literacy Act will be delayed.

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