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Literacy Act requirement delay passes final vote

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Late into the last night of the legislative session the House gave final approval to a bill to delay the student holdback provision under the 2019 Literacy Act.

Senate Bill 92 from Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, delays from spring 2022 to spring 2024 the requirement that third-grade students not proficient in reading repeat the grade.

Rep. Barbra Drummond, D-Mobile, sponsored the bill in the House and said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a delay in some students’ education and more time is needed before the retention piece of the act goes into effect.

“It’s not fair to our children when they have not gotten schooling for 14 months and to be tested and expected to read on their level,” Drummond said. “Let’s give them a chance to catch up.”

The bill passed with a vote of 68-27 and it now goes to the governor for approval. The bill got bi-partisan support and the Republican-led chamber cut short debate on the bill with a vote of 60-36.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, who sponsored the Literacy Act legislation in 2019, voted against the bill saying lawmakers should wait until data shows that the holdback provision needs to be delayed.

“We’re going to have good data in just a month and then see where we are, see what we need to do, we can make good decisions based on data and how we need to best address the reading issues of students,” Collins said.

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