The Senate Education Committee will be discussing Senate Bill 21 this week, a bill that seeks to change the requirements of the teachers involved in reading instruction under the Third Grade Guarantee.  The legislation likely does not go far enough in providing schools the flexibility they need to roll in the required changes to reading instruction, but the introduction of legislation to modify the rules is a start.

Senate Bill 21 seeks to remove the requirement that students “…shall be assigned a teacher who has been actively engaged in the reading instruction of students for the previous three years…”

This legislation does not alter the following requirements for K-3 reading teachers yet.  A teacher must meet one of these requirements in order to be the teacher of identified students:

(a) The teacher holds a reading endorsement on the teacher’s license and has attained a passing score on the corresponding assessment for that endorsement.

(b) The teacher has completed a master’s degree program with a major in reading.

(c) The teacher has demonstrated evidence of a credential earned from a list of scientifically research-based reading instruction programs approved by the department.

(d) The teacher was rated “above value added,” which means most effective in reading, as determined by the department, for the last two school years.

The value of Senate Bill 21 may not be in this minor change, but in any amendments that various entities are lobbying for at this point, including universities who don’t have the capacity to train the number of teachers across the state who would need to enroll in classes to earn the reading endorsement or master’s degree.  Senate Bill 21 opens the door for Education Committee Chair Senator Peggy Lehner to work to correct the flaws in the existing law.