“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”  That is a quote from American motivational speaker, Jim Rohn.

I have always loved to read.  I remember my parents calling me a “book worm” when I was a child.  It was a way not only to improve my education but a way to learn about other people’s experiences.  I remember resorting to reading the dictionary one summer.  I guess that shows how boring I can be. 

Not all children have the love of reading and some who want to read struggle with the whole process.

One of our children struggled with reading and it affected her grades and her attitude.  But once we identified the problem and got her some help, her grades improved and so did her disposition.  What we learned was that as frustrating as it was for us was nothing compared to how she was feeling by not being able to read.

Alabama passed the Alabama Literacy Law last spring and it is set to be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year.

The law requires all third graders be able to read on grade level or they will be retained and not pass to the fourth grade.

This year’s first graders will be the first class to be tested under the new legislation.

Lawmakers have called the law a game-changer for children in Alabama.

A 20-member task force has been appointed to provide recommendations for comprehensive core reading and reading intervention programs.   They met recently to discuss ways to implement the law.

The group consists of classroom teachers, school administrators, reading specialists and college professors from across America.

The law requires schools to identify struggling readers in kindergarten through third grade and offer multiple layers of support to those students.  If the student isn’t reading on grade level, they will be held back.

Alabama is now one of 17 states that require holding students back who are not reading on grade level.

This law could drastically change the academic makeup of our state.  It is great that lawmakers finally recognized the importance of reading in a child’s life.

According to statistics from recent testing, over half of Alabama’s third graders did not test proficient in reading.  That should not be acceptable to anyone in Alabama.

The Task Force is responsible for producing a list of tests schools can use to determine whether students in kindergarten through third grade are struggling and why.  They will also develop a system of training teachers in the science of how children learn to read.

  Dyslexia specific intervention will be provided to students with characteristics of dyslexia and all struggling readers

The reason grade three was chosen is because the third- grade marks the time when the focus changes from learning to read to reading to learn.

Critics of the new law suggest grade three is not plausible because some students mature at different times.  Others say legislators rushed into passing the law without regard for how long it will take to implement the new testing and there is still some confusion about where the funds will come from for some of the law’s requirements.

Alabama has been at the lower end of the education spectrum for too long.  It is time we stepped up and implemented programs to improve the education our students receive.

Research shows that students not reading proficiently at the end of third grade are four times more likely to not finish high school.  Students who are passed on without reading skills will continue falling further behind in reading and other subjects.

Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning.

The theory that learning to read is a natural process and that with enough exposure, kids will figure out how words work is just not true.

Strong fundamental literacy skills are essential for a student’s success.  When students are successful, we all win.

We are not the only state that has this problem.

Too many American children reach the end of third grade without basic literacy skills.  This will have a lifelong effect on their future successes. 

Academic success for Alabama’s children will impact our economy.  Having better educated students will affect the state’s ability to produce a workforce that will be incomparable.

It’s time to turn the lives of Alabama students around academically.

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