April 7, 2015
Today, I provided expert testimony in the Nevada Senate Education Committee on comprehensive K-3 Reading Policy and the Nevada Read by Three Bill (SB 391) at the invitation of Committee Chair Becky Harris. I shared with the committee members that as a high-school teacher for almost a decade, I saw first-hand the impact of socially promoting children to preserve their self-esteem, only to see those same children struggle to learn in the tenth and eleventh grades. Continuing to promote students who cannot read proficiently does not serve the student, their family, the community or the economy. We must demand that every child who sits in a classroom for four years enters fourth grade as a competent reader. If not, then what is the purpose of the classroom?
Research shows that children not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. More alarming is that low-income minority students are eight times more likely to drop out of high school if they are struggling readers. The purpose of a K-3 Reading Policy is to ensure all students read proficiently by the end of third grade. K-3 Reading policies include strategies such as enhanced teacher training and certification, pre-K early literacy, kindergarten literacy screening, immediate intensive intervention for all K-3 students identified with reading difficulties and retention with more intensive intervention as a last resort.
This policy works! Florida has the results to prove it. More than a decade ago, Florida pioneered legislation similar to SB 391 and witnessed dramatic increases in student achievement. Today, Florida’s fourth-grade students outperform the national average for reading by more than half a grade level, with the greatest impact on minority and low-income students, who are outperforming their peers across the nation.
Excel National applauds Governor Brian Sandoval for making a robust K-3 Reading Policy a top priority this legislative session. It is a winning formula for ensuring every Nevada child can read by the end of the third grade and has a strong foundation for success in life. I thank Senator Harris and the committee members for the opportunity to provide insight and data about K-3 Reading policy and initiatives and I look forward to seeing the results of this important investment in the future of Nevada’s students.
Mary Laura Bragg
National Legislative Director
Excellence in Education National