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Bill establishing review process for school reading content pushed to next week

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill that would establish a process for reviewing elementary school reading content to ensure it “reflects the core values of the state” was delayed Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

Sponsored by the chair of the committee, Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, House Bill 430 makes a number of modifications to the state’s Literacy Task Force, an appointed body created to help facilitate and implement provisions of the Alabama Literacy Act. Passed in 2019, the Literacy Act introduced regular reading assessments for K-3 students in an effort to improve reading proficiency.

While the bill includes some changes to the task force’s composition, such as expanding its size from 20 to 25 members, perhaps the most notable change is the requirement that the curriculum the Literacy Task Force recommends be vetted and reviewed so it is age appropriate and aligns with the state’s “standards and code of ethics,” something Garrett said was not happening currently.

“The reason I even got involved in this was because last summer when some of the curriculum came to the school systems, there was some content in the curriculum that caused some problems and concerns in the local school districts and around the state,” Garrett said when introducing his bill. 

“What I found out was that the task force had been charged with determining if a curriculum met the science of reading standards – which it did – but they did not review the content; that was not within the structure of their charge.”

The bill does not define the state’s core values or ethics.

With the reading assessments required by the Literacy Act having demonstrated success already in improving student reading proficiency, several committee members, such as Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, expressed concerns of tinkering with something that was already working.

Garrett noted the concerns, but argued his bill was in no way limiting the Literacy Task Force in their ability to continue their responsibilities, and that it only established a vetting process for content.

Committee members also expressed a desire to hear more from education experts on the proposal. Garrett eventually moved to delay consideration of the bill to allow time for those conversations. 



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