TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback’s effort to improve fourth-grade reading levels by jump-starting new programs and retaining failing third-graders got new life Tuesday, but it now would retain first-raders.
After significantly watering down the Read to Succeed Act, the Senate approved the plan on a voice vote.
The altered plan only applies to districts with below-average reading levels, and it raised questions about what tests first graders would be judged on.
Parents and teachers could recommend advancing first-graders with approval from principals and superintendents.
It’s unclear how many students might be affected by the bill, but it includes funding and appears to help reach a goal that almost everyone agrees on, improving reading skills of Kansas students, said Mark Tallman, a lobbyist with the Kansas Association of School Boards.
“The Kansas trends show we’re getting there anyway,” he said.
Tallman was among many who questioned the impact of holding back third-graders, as Brownback had proposed. The idea initially failed in a Senate committee, but it was revived by lawmakers, in part, because it is among the governor’s top goals.
A final vote on the amended version of Substitute for House Bill 2140 is expected late Tuesday or Wednesday.