Alabama Legislature

Smitherman Files Literacy Act Delay Bill

Birmingham students get boost from Better Basics programs in reading and math. Source: Better Basics

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, on Monday filed a bill to stop the spring 2022 implementation of the third-grade holdback provision of the Alabama Literacy Act.

The same bill passed the Legislature in the regular session earlier this year but was vetoed by Gov. Kay Ivey.

Smitherman’s effort this week isn’t likely to go far in the session that could be over by Friday but may be a signal that he’s not giving up on the issue.

Senate Bill 4 would delay until the 2024-2025 school year a provision that schools must hold back third grade students who don’t demonstrate sufficient reading skills. Smitherman in the spring argued that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent disruption to children’s education would mean too many children would unfairly be held back. Opponents said state leaders should wait for more testing data before making any changes to the bill.

Earlier this month, initial statewide achievement scores from spring testing showed significant and expected learning losses. No decisions on what the scores may mean for the Literacy Act requirements have been made.

poll of Republican voters taken in August showed the law had 81% support among the GOP.