SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Legislature will consider a bill to retain third graders who cannot pass a literacy screening.

HB12 is a pre-filed bill drafted by Representative Richard Nelson of Mandeville and has 21 cosponsors in the House and three Senate cosponsors. The bill intends to increase the number of third-grade students reading at or below grade level.

The bill outlines the interventions schools must employ to prevent third-grade students with reading deficiencies from being promoted.

According to the language in the bill, it would require third-grade students to take a literacy screening. If the screening determines the child has a reading deficiency, the student will receive certain intensive instructional services. Students provided the interventions outlined in the draft would be subjected to another screener in the spring. They will not be promoted to fourth grade if they do not exhibit reading proficiency.

The law would allow the student to be screened before the school year for another opportunity to be promoted appropriately.

According to Louisiana Believes’ fall 2021 reading report, 53.2% of third-grade students read on or above grade level.

HB12 takes current Louisiana law, which requires literacy interventions for students whose assessments reflect a need, and penalizes them for failing to meet standards.

The proposed law does provide some exceptions:

  • English language learners with fewer than two years in an ELL program.
  • Students with IEP that indicate the screening assessment is not appropriate for the student.
  • Students who already receive screenings as part of an IEP or 504 plan have received intensive remediation and still demonstrate deficiency or were previously retained in K-3.
  • Students who received two or more years of intensive intervention but still demonstrate a deficiency and were previously retained in K-3.
  • Demonstrates an acceptable reading proficiency on a BESE-approved alternative standardized assessment.

A subsection of HB12 outlines how teachers, principals, and the district superintendent may determine the student’s readiness to be promoted. Parents also have the option to have their children retained if they disagree with the educator’s determination.

Students promoted under the subsection’s guidance will receive an individual reading plan outlining intensive reading instruction and interventions delivered through strategies specific to the child’s needs.

If HB12 is adopted by the legislature and signed by Governor John Bel Edwards, BESE would be required to adopt it for the 2024-2025 school year.