Senator: Reading Sufficiency Act should not decide a child’s future

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma senator is again trying to make changes to a bill that focuses on a child’s ability to read.

Right now, Oklahoma third graders are required to take the Reading Sufficiency Act before they can move on to the fourth grade.

“The Reading Sufficiency Act was well-intentioned policy that has caused tremendous stress and anxiety for children, parents and teachers throughout Oklahoma,” said Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso.  “A single, high-stakes test is a snap-shot that can be greatly skewed by fear and nervousness—you have to look at the child’s performance over that entire year, and the parents and teachers are going to be better judges of that than just going by the results of one test.  The exam is required by the federal government, but the state chose to use it to determine which kids got held back in third grade. It was the wrong thing to do and it’s time to make it right.”

Currently, the law allows districts to use screening assessments, reading portfolios and good cause exemptions to enable students to continue to the fourth grade.

“We need to trust our local districts, teachers and parents to work together and address any reading problems without this perception that a single test could cause a child that may actually read at grade level to be held back,” Dossett said.  “The federal government requires schools to give this test, and state law gives districts flexibility in how the results are used.  But I think it is time to tell Oklahomans plainly that this single test will not decide their child’s future.”

However, other state leaders contend the Reading Sufficiency Act works.

In 2015, tests showed 85 percent of third graders passed the test and were prepared for fourth grade.

In a statement to News 4 in 2017, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said “Our focus on early learning reading is working. Through RSA, we are reaching schoolchildren who need help the most. It is important that we continue to build momentum with literacy by fostering parent engagement with strategic interventions for students.”

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