SANTA FE – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Monica Youngblood to improve student reading passed the House of Representatives Friday evening by a bipartisan 35-27 vote.
The bill, HB 67, would provide early identification of struggling readers, make intensive reading intervention and instruction available to these students, and end the practice of promoting students who cannot demonstrate basic reading skills by the end of third grade.
“Advancing students through the system without giving them reading skills they need to succeed is setting them up for future failure,” Youngblood said. “Kids who do not have a basic ability to read by the time they leave the third grade will only fall further behind their peers. The strategies included in this proposal ensure that we use every method possible to equip these students with the tools they need to graduate.”
The bill requires an early screening assessment for kids in kindergarten through third grade. The annual assessment would evaluate students to help teachers identify struggling readers in need of targeted remediation and instruction.
Youngblood’s proposal would provide professional development and support from reading coaches to teachers so they can effectively apply intensive intervention strategies. The bill would require that parents are kept informed of the student’s progress and given reading strategies to use at home.
HB 67 includes four good cause exemptions for students demonstrating proficiency in alternate norm-referenced assessment, English language learners, students with disabilities and students who have already been retained once between grades K-2nd. Students would only be retained if they are unable score above level 1 on a 1-5 scale assessment for reading proficiency after all intervention measures have been exhausted.
Studies show that students are four times more likely to drop out if they are unable to read proficiently by the third grade. One study found that 88 percent of high school dropouts were not proficient readers in the third grade. Currently, only 24 percent of New Mexico fourth graders have grade-level reading skills.