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AL Literacy Act sparks criticism

The Alabama Literacy Act that Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law has been facing criticism by educators across Alabama including the Escambia County Board of Education. The act will enable Alabama educators to hold back third graders who do not meet or exceed a third grade reading level.

“It’s difficult to get all of the students to a third grade reading level,” District 7 Board of Education member Coleman Wallace said during the board meeting. “The students all come from different backgrounds.”

Alabama House Representative Terri Collins sponsored the Literacy Act. Collins said that she had read about other states’ similar literacy bills and wanted it for Alabama.

“Only about 35 percent of our children read at a proficient level,” Collins said. “That’s not acceptable. The states that are working on legislation like this are making very good gains on the test scores and in reading. I wanted that for our children in Alabama.”

The act will not add additional tests to the curriculum. Collins said that the act will help teachers improve their teaching skills, especially for struggling readers. The act also has a requirement to screen for dyslexia. However, educators do not agree with Collins because of her decision to include a grade specification in the Literacy Act.

“All students are not the same,” Escambia County Board of Education Superintendent John Knott said. “Students mature at different times.”

The act will come into effect during the 2021-2022 school year.