Governor reviewing bill to delay Alabama Literacy Act

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey is reviewing a bill that would delay the Alabama Literacy Act from fully going into effect.

In 2022, Alabama third graders who are not reading on grade level will need to repeat the third grade, according to the Literacy Act.

But state lawmakers passed a bill to delay this act by two years, providing more time before some students would be held back.

Supporters of this delay say students should not be expected to read on grade level after not fully being in classrooms during the pandemic. Verbena High School Principal Tammy Hand supports the delay.

“With so many kids being remote learners this year for various reasons,” Hand said. “I just don’t think they’ve had the educational support that they need.”

The Literacy Act aims to set up intensive tutoring for those held back and give these third graders extra help with reading before moving to the next grade.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, sponsored the Alabama Literacy Act, which passed in 2019 and does not support the delay.

“If our data shows this summer that we need to postpone that. We’ve got plenty of time to do that,” Collins said.

Collins says now is not the time to put the brakes on the act, which she said will help keep students reading on grade level.

“If it’s pushed off to 2024, then we lose three more years of children that have a chance of promoting on and not knowing how to read,” she said.

A spokesperson for Gov. Kay Ivey said “We are hearing from concerned parties regarding the Literacy Act delay. The governor is certainly taking a hard look at this and is exploring all options. Education policy is important to the governor, and as we review, we will provide an update on where she leans on this decision.”

The Alabama Education Association does not want the state to move forward with the third-grade retention portion of the Alabama Literacy Act just yet.

“Teachers want the best for their students to succeed and students haven’t had the normal chances to receive traditional classroom instruction due to the pandemic. Reading is the building block for all other skills and our students need time to recover and get back on track while teachers get the full training needed to increase reading proficiency. It is time to use common sense and delay the third-grade retention requirement of the Literacy Act. Now is not the time to penalize students and teachers for an unprecedented pandemic,” an AEA spokesperson said.

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