Reading Bill Passes House – Heads to Senate

Rep. Mary Helen Garcia


Legislation focuses on intervention, remediation and assessment by Third Grade

SANTA FE—Legislation guaranteeing that every child from K-3 will be provided with intensive remediation if they are struggling to read has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 34-29.

The House Committee Substitute for House Bill 93, Academic Success Through Remediation Act, sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Doña Ana, also provides for a team approach to determine whether a student should be promoted to the next grade. The committee substitute addresses concerns about definitions, measuring student performance on a single test score, parental involvement and local flexibility to implement appropriate reading plans.

“This bill has been in the works for four years,” Garcia said. “I believe that with the buy in from the education stake holders, we finally have a bill that truly targets students. The students are the ones who need intervention. The students are the ones we must think about.”

Garcia said HB93 CS is much better than our current remediation, intervention and retention laws for several reasons. It requires all elementary schools to have a specific focus in their academic plan on helping their students achieve good literacy skills. Current law does not require this focus. This bill requires that all students K-3 participate in a screening assessment in the first nine weeks of the school year. This deadline is nine week earlier than current law. The bill clearly defines the score on the screening assessment that will trigger intervention. HB93CS requires that the schools create the reading plan to include strategies for the parent to help their child at home and requires that help be explained in the parent’s native language. 

Finally, if the student is still deficient in reading at the end of the summer, this bill requires that the student assistance team (SAT) meet to decide collectively if the student should be retained or promoted. Garcia says the collective decision is critical because the parent is involved in the decision and is a partner in their child’s education. Current law does not require this kind of partnership with the student’s family.

HB 93 CS also provides intervention for all 4–8 graders if the student is not academically proficient in reading by the end of the second grading period. The student assessment team is required to meet to create an academic improvement plan for those students so the parent may be involved. Unlike current law, the bill requires that this be done in the home language. Promotion decisions for 4–8 graders do not include retention, because Garcia strongly believes retention may be inappropriate for students at that age. However, it does require intensive remediation be completed by the school.

“I’ve always had a passion for reading and hopefully, this bill will help children discover their own passion,” Garcia said. “If children learn to read, their self concept will be expanded. My hope is that they will become life-long readers.”

Garcia’s Reading Bill received input and support from the New Mexico School Board Association, NEA (National Education Association), AFT (American Federation of Teachers) and Albuquerque Public Schools.

HB93 CS now goes to the Senate Education Committee.