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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA READ TO SUCCEED ACT"; BY ADDING CHAPTER 155 TO TITLE 59 SO AS TO CREATE THE SOUTH CAROLINA READ TO SUCCEED OFFICE AND A READING PROFICIENCY PANEL WITHIN THE OFFICE, AND TO PROVIDE RELATED REQUIREMENTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION, SCHOOL DISTRICTS, COLLEGES, AND UNIVERSITIES THAT OFFER CERTAIN RELATED GRADUATE EDUCATION, AND EDUCATORS AND ADMINISTRATORS, AMONG OTHER THINGS.
Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly finds that national research has documented that students unable to comprehend grade-appropriate text struggle in all their courses; and
Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly finds that while reading typically has been assessed through standardized tests beginning in third grade, research has found that many struggling readers reach preschool or kindergarten with low oral language skills and limited print awareness. Once in school, they and other students fail to develop proficiency with decoding or comprehension because of inadequate instruction; and
Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly finds that research has also shown that students who have difficulty comprehending texts struggle academically in their content area courses but seldom receive effective instructional intervention during middle and high school to improve their reading comprehension. These are the students least likely to graduate; and
Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly finds that one recent longitudinal study found that students reading below grade level at the end of third grade were six times more likely to leave school without a high school diploma; and
Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly finds that reading proficiency is a fundamental life skill vital for the educational and economic success of our citizens and State. In accordance with the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court that all students must be given "an opportunity to acquire the ability to read, write, and speak the English language," we find that all students must be given high quality instruction in order to learn to read, comprehend, write, speak, listen and use language effectively across all content areas; and
Whereas, to guarantee that all students exhibit these abilities and behaviors, the State of South Carolina must implement a comprehensive and strategic approach to reading proficiency for students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade that begins when each student enters the public school system and continues until he or she graduates. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-155-110. There is established the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office to offer a comprehensive, systemic approach to reading which will ensure that:
(1) classroom teachers, using text-based assessment measures that inform curriculum and instruction, provide students access to diverse text and ample time to read those texts, develop curriculum and provide instruction which will ensure that all students can comprehend grade-appropriate texts;
(2) classroom teachers periodically reassess their curriculum and instruction to determine if they are helping each student progress as a proficient reader and make modifications as appropriate;
(3) each student who cannot yet comprehend grade-appropriate texts identified as early as possible and at all stages of his or her educational process;
(4) each student receives targeted, effective comprehension support from the classroom teacher and, if needed, supplemental support from a reading interventionist so that ultimately all students can comprehend grade-appropriate texts;
(5) each student and his parent or guardian is continuously informed in writing of:
(a) the student's reading proficiency needs, progress, and ability to comprehend grade-appropriate texts;
(b) specific actions the classroom teacher and other reading professionals have taken and will take to help the student comprehend grade-appropriate texts; and
(c) specific actions that the parent or guardian can take to help the student comprehend grade-appropriate texts by providing access to books, assuring time for the student to read independently, reading to students, and talking with student about books;
(6) classroom teachers receive preservice and in-service coursework which prepares them to help all students comprehend grade-appropriate texts;
(7) all students develop reading and writing proficiency to prepare them to graduate and to succeed in career and postsecondary education; and
(8) each school district and each school develops and publishes annually a comprehensive research-based reading plan that includes intervention options available to students and funding for these services.
Section 59-155-120. As used in this chapter:
(1) 'Department' means the State Department of Education.
(2) 'Board' means the State Board of Education.
(3) 'Readiness assessment' means assessments used to analyze students' literacy, mathematical, physical, social, and emotional-behavioral competencies in prekindergarten or kindergarten.
(4) 'Research-based formative assessment' means assessments used within the school year to analyze strengths and weaknesses in reading comprehension of students individually to adapt instruction to meet student needs, make decisions about appropriate intervention services, and inform placement and instructional planning for the next grade level.
(5) 'Summative assessment' means state-approved assessments administered in grades three through eight and any statewide assessment used in grades nine through twelve to determine student mastery of grade-level or content standards.
(6) 'Content area reading' means reading grade-appropriate text across various disciplines and content areas including, but not limited to, English language arts, science, mathematics, social studies, and career and technology education.
(7) 'Reading interventions' means individual or group assistance in the classroom and supplemental support based on curricular and instructional decisions made by classroom teachers and by reading interventionists who have an add-on reading endorsement. Teachers make these research-based decisions when planning and carrying out whole group, small group, and one-on-one instruction.
(8) 'Reading proficiency' means the ability of students to meet state reading standards in kindergarten through grade twelve, demonstrated by readiness, formative or summative assessments.
(9) 'Reading proficiency skills' means the ability to understand how written language works at the word, sentence, paragraph, and text level and mastery of the skills, strategies, and oral and written language needed to comprehend grade-appropriate texts.
(10) 'Third-grade reading proficiency' means the ability to read grade-appropriate texts by the end of a student's third grade year as demonstrated by the results of state-approved assessments administered to third grade students, or through other assessments as noted in this chapter and adopted by the board.
(11) 'Substantially fails to demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency' means reading at levels in the bottom ten percent of the grade-level standards.
(12) 'Summer reading camp' means an educational program offered in the summer by each local school district for students who are unable to comprehend grade-appropriate texts.
(13) 'Reading portfolio' means a compilation of independently produced student work and assessments selected by the student's teacher and verified by the teacher and principal, as providing an accurate picture of the student's ability to comprehend grade-appropriate texts. The portfolio must constitute an organized collection of evidence of the student's mastery of the state's reading standards.
Section 59-155-130. (A) The Read to Succeed Office must guide and support districts and collaborate with university teacher training programs to increase reading proficiency through the following functions including, but not limited to:
(1) providing professional development to teachers, school principals, and other administrative staff on reading instruction and reading assessment that informs instruction;
(2) providing professional development to teachers, school principals, and other administrative staff on reading in content areas;
(3) working collaboratively with institutions of higher learning offering courses in reading and writing and those institutions of education offering accredited master's degrees in reading-literacy to design coursework leading to a literacy coach add-on endorsement by the State;
(4) providing professional development in reading and coaching for already certified literacy coaches;
(5) developing information and resources that school districts can use to provide workshops for parents about how they can support their children as readers;
(6) assisting school districts in the development and implementation of their district reading proficiency plans for researched-based reading instruction programs and to assist each of their schools to develop its own implementation plan aligned with the district and state plans; and
(7) annually designing content and questions for and review and approve the reading proficiency plan of each district.
(B)(1) The Reading Proficiency Panel is created to assist the Read to Succeed Office as provided in this subsection.
(2) The panel must be composed of six individuals selected for having the highest expertise on reading instruction, with three from public or private institutions of higher education nominated by the Commission on Higher Education with recommendations from the education deans of the institution and three who are responsible for their district reading proficiency plans or have exceptional reading expertise. Members of the panel serve terms of two years and may be appointed to successive terms. They may receive no compensation but may receive per diem and mileage as provided for boards and commissions. A vacancy in the panel must be filled in the manner of the original appointment.
(3) The Reading Proficiency Panel shall:
(a) review, select, and summarize for dissemination basic research on reading, reading growth, reading assessment, and reading instruction that will contribute to educators' research-based knowledge of reading, benefit students in this State, and impact policy and practices;
(b) provide technical assistance to the department and written guidance to schools for improving reading instruction of students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade; and
(c) review and comment, in writing, on the State Reading Proficiency Plan and district and school proficiency plans.
Section 59-155-140. (A)(1) The department, in consultation with the Reading Proficiency Expert Panel and with approval by the State Board of Education, will develop, implement, evaluate, and continuously refine a comprehensive state plan to improve reading achievement in public schools. The State Reading Proficiency Plan must be approved by the board by January 1, 2014 and must include, but not be limited to, sections addressing the following components:
(a) reading process;
(b) professional development to increase teacher reading expertise;
(c) professional development to increase reading expertise and literacy leadership of principals and assistant principals;
(d) reading instruction;
(e) reading assessment;
(f) volume of reading;
(g) content area reading;
(i) support for struggling readers;
(j) early childhood interventions;
(k) family support of literacy development;
(l) district guidance and support for reading proficiency;
(m) state guidance and support for reading proficiency;
(n) accountability; and
(o) urgency to improve reading proficiency.
(2) The plan must be based on reading research and proven-effective practices, applied to the conditions prevailing in reading-literacy education in this State, with special emphasis on addressing instructional and institutional deficiencies that can be remedied through faithful implementation of research-based practices. The plan must provide standards, format, and guidance for districts to use to develop and annually update their plans as well as to present and explain the research-based rationale for state-level actions to be taken. The plan must be updated annually and must incorporate a state reading proficiency progress report.
(3) The plan must include specific plans for all substantial uses of state, local, and federal funds promoting reading-literacy and best judgment estimates of the cost of research-supported, thoroughly analyzed proposals for initiation, expansion, or modification of major funding programs addressing reading and writing. Analyses of funding requirements must be prepared by the department in consultation with the South Carolina Reading Proficiency Expert Panel for incorporation into the plan.
(B)(1) Beginning in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, each district must prepare a comprehensive annual reading proficiency plan for prekindergarten through twelfth grade consistent with the plan by responding to questions and presenting specific information and data in a format specified by the Read to Succeed Office. Each district's PK-12 reading proficiency plan must present the rationale and details of its blueprint for action and support at the district, school, and classroom levels. Each district should develop a comprehensive plan for supporting the progress of students as readers and writers, monitoring the impact of its plan, and using data to make improvements and to inform its plan for the subsequent years.
(2) Each district PK-12 reading proficiency plan shall:
(a) document the reading and writing assessment and instruction planned for all PK-12 students and the interventions in prekindergarten through twelfth grade to be provided to all struggling readers who are not able to comprehend grade-appropriate texts. Supplemental instruction should be provided by teachers who have a literacy coach add-on endorsement and offered during the school day and, as appropriate, before or after school in book clubs, through a summer reading camp, or both;
(b) include a system for helping parents understand how they can support the student as a reader at home;
(c) provide for the monitoring of reading achievement and growth at the classroom, school, and district levels with decisions about intervention based on all available data;
(d) document the amount of time students spend reading and writing including:
(i) the amount of classroom time students spend engaged directly in reading;
(ii) the amount of time students spend reading outside of school during the school year, including before or after school in reading clubs, on homework, and through voluntary reading; and
(iii) the amount of time students spend reading during the summer which prevents summer loss of reading proficiency, and because writing effectively improves reading proficiency, districts must emphasize the volume and types of writing which enables achievement of the State English language arts academic standards, and the volume of both reading and writing should be documented to include the time, frequency and duration, including coordination across content areas;
(e) ensure that students are provided with wide selections of texts over a wide range of genres and written on a wide range of reading levels to match the reading levels of students;
(f) provide teacher training in reading and writing instruction; and
(g) include strategically planned and developed partnerships with county libraries, volunteers, social organizations and school media specialists to promote reading.
(3)(a) The Read to Succeed Office shall develop the format for the plan and the deadline for districts to submit their plans to the office for its approval. A school district that does not submit a plan or whose plan is not approved will receive no state funds for reading until it submits a plan that is approved. All district reading plans must be reviewed and approved by the Read to Succeed Office. The office will provide written comments to each district on its plan and to all districts on common issues raised in prior or newly submitted district reading plans.
(b) The Read to Succeed Office will monitor the district and school plans and use their findings to inform the training and support the office provides to districts and schools.
(c) The department may direct a district that is persistently unable to prepare an acceptable PK-12 reading proficiency plan or to help all students comprehend grade-appropriate texts to enter into a multidistrict or contractual arrangement to develop an effective intervention plan.
(C) Each school must prepare an implementation plan aligned with the plan of its district to enable the district to monitor and support implementation at the school level. A school plan should be sufficiently detailed to provide practical guidance for classroom teachers. Proposed strategies for assessment, instruction, and other activities specified in the school plan must be sufficient to provide to classroom teachers and other instructional staff helpful guidance that can be related to the critical reading and writing needs of students in the school. In consultation with the School Improvement Council, each school must include in its plan the training and support that will be provided to parents as needed to maximize their promotion of reading and writing by students at home and in the community.
Section 59-155-150. (A) The State Superintendent of Education shall ensure that every student entering the public schools for the first time in prekindergarten and kindergarten will be administered a readiness screening by the forty-fifth day of the school year. The screening must assess each child's early language and literacy development, mathematical thinking, physical well-being, and social-emotional development. The screening may include multiple assessments, all of which must be approved by the board. The approved assessments of academic readiness must be aligned with first and second grade standards for English language arts and mathematics. The purpose of the screenings is to provide teachers and parents or guardians with information to address the readiness needs of each student, especially by identifying language, cognitive, social, emotional, health problems, and concerning appropriate instruction for each child. The results of the screenings and the developmental intervention strategies recommended to address the child's identified needs must be provided, in writing, to the parent or guardian. Reading instructional strategies and developmental activities for children whose oral language skills are assessed to be below the norm of their peers in the State must be aligned with the district's reading proficiency plan for addressing the readiness needs of each student. The results of each screening also must be reported to the Read to Succeed Office through an electronic information system.
(B) Any PK-3 student who exhibits significant difficulties with reading grade-appropriate texts, based upon formal diagnostic assessments or through teacher observations, must be provided intensive in-class and supplemental reading intervention immediately upon determination. The intensive interventions must be provided as individualized and small group assistance based on the analysis of assessment data. All sustained interventions must be aligned with the district's reading proficiency plan. The district must continue to provide intensive in-class intervention and supplemental intervention until the student can comprehend grade-appropriate texts independently. In addition, the parent or guardian of the student must be notified, in writing, of the child's inability to read grade-appropriate texts and of the planned interventions. The results of the initial assessments and progress monitoring also must be provided to the Read to Succeed Office through an electronic student reading progress monitoring data system for individually identified child reading data which can be linked and compared over time to evaluate progress.
(C) At the end of prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, or second grade, students identified as having significant problems reading grade-appropriate texts must be provided summer reading camps. A parent or guardian of a student who does not demonstrate the ability to comprehend texts appropriate for his grade level must make the final decision regarding the student's participation in the summer camp. Summer camps must be six to eight weeks long for four or five days each week and include at least five and one-half hours of instructional time daily. The camps must be taught by compensated, licensed teachers who have demonstrated substantial success in helping students comprehend grade-appropriate texts.
(D) Programs that focus on early childhood literacy development in the State are required to promote:
(1) parent training and support for parent involvement in developing children's literacy; and
(2) development of oral language, print awareness, and emergent writing; and are encouraged to promote community literacy including, but not limited to, primary health care providers, faith-based organizations, county libraries, and service organizations.
Section 59-155-160. (A) Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, a student must be retained in the third grade if the student fails substantially to demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency at the end of the third grade. A student may be exempt for good cause from the mandatory retention but shall continue to receive instructional support and services and reading intervention appropriate for their age and reading level. Good cause exemptions include students:
(1) with limited English proficiency and less than two years of instruction in English as a Second Language program;
(2) with disabilities whose individualized education program indicates the use of alternative assessments or alternative reading interventions and students whose reading comprehension level is determined to match their low cognitive ability;
(3) who demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency on an alternative assessment approved by the board and which teachers may administer following the administration of the state assessment of reading or after a student's participating in a summer reading camp;
(4) who have received reading intervention and were previously retained; and
(5) who through a reading portfolio demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency. Teachers may submit the student reading portfolio at the end of the school year or after a student's participation in a summer reading camp. Guidelines and standards for the reading portfolio and review process will be established by the board.
(B) The superintendent of the local school district must determine whether a student in the district may be exempt from the mandatory retention by taking all of the following steps:
(1) The teacher of a student eligible for exemption must submit to the principal documentation on the proposed exemption and evidence that promotion of the student is appropriate based on the student's academic record. This evidence must be limited to the student's individual reading proficiency plan, individual education program, alternative assessments, or student reading portfolio.
(2) The principal must review the documentation and determine whether the student should be promoted. If the principal determines the student should be promoted, the principal must submit a written recommendation for promotion to the district superintendent for final determination.
(3) The district superintendent's acceptance or rejection of the recommendation must be in writing and a copy must be provided to the parent or guardian of the child.
(C) Students not demonstrating third-grade reading proficiency shall enroll in a summer camp prior to being retained the following school year. Students who demonstrate third-grade reading proficiency through an alternative assessment or student reading portfolio after completing the summer reading camp must be promoted to the fourth grade.
(D) Retained students must be provided intensive instructional services and supports including a minimum of ninety minutes of daily, uninterrupted reading and reading instruction, and other strategies prescribed by the school district. These strategies may include, but are not limited to, instruction directly focused on improving the student's individual reading proficiency skills through small group instruction, reduced teacher-student ratios, more frequent student progress monitoring, tutoring or mentoring, transition classes containing students in multiple grade spans, and extended school day, week, or year reading support. The school must report through the student reading progress monitoring data system to the Read to Succeed Office on the progress of students in the class at the end of the school year and at other times as required by the office based on the reading progression monitoring requirements of these students.
(E) If the student is not demonstrating third-grade reading proficiency by the end of third grade, his parent or guardian timely must be notified, in writing, that the student will be retained unless exempted from mandatory retention for good cause. The parent or guardian may designate another person as an education advocate also to act on their behalf to receive notification and to assume the responsibility of promoting the reading success of the child. The written notification must include a description of the proposed reading interventions that will be provided to help the student comprehend grade-appropriate texts. The parent, guardian, or other education advocate must receive written reports at least monthly on the student's progress towards being able to read grade-appropriate texts based upon the student's classroom work, observations, tests, assessment, and other information. The parent, guardian, or other education advocate also must be provided with a plan for promoting reading at home, including participation in shared or guided reading workshops for the parent, guardian, or other family members. The parent or guardian of a retained student must be offered supplemental tutoring for the retained student in evidenced-based services outside the instructional day.
(F) The board must establish a midyear promotion policy for any retained student in or below third grade who, by November first of the following school year, demonstrates the ability to read grade-appropriate texts through an alternative assessment of reading comprehension or a reading portfolio.
Section 59-155-170. (A) To help students develop and apply their reading and writing skills across the school day in all the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, career and technology education, and physical and health education, teachers of these content areas must focus on comprehension, analysis, and oral and written expression. Reading and writing to understand and apply content must be the focus of learning at all grade levels. The Read to Succeed program is intended to institutionalize in public schools a comprehensive system to promote high achievement in the content areas described in this chapter through extensive reading and writing. Research-based practices must be employed to promote comprehension skills through, but not limited to:
(2) connotation of words;
(3) connotations of words in context with adjoining or prior text;
(4) concepts from prior text;
(5) personal background knowledge;
(6) ability to interpret meaning through sentence structure features;
(8) visualization; and
(9) discussion of text with peers.
(B) These practices must be mastered by teachers through high quality training and addressed through well-designed and effectively executed assessment and instruction implemented with fidelity to research-based instructional practices presented in the State, district, and school reading plans. All teachers, administrators, and support staff must be trained adequately in reading comprehension in order to perform effectively their roles enabling each student to become proficient in content area reading and writing.
Section 59-155-180. (A) The department shall modify its preservice educator requirements and enforce certification requirements of teachers certified in this State on the effective date of this act to conform with the requirements of this section.
(B) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, all preservice teacher education programs must use a modified version of the Literacy: Reading-English Language Standards Second Edition as established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to describe the expertise needed for newly certified teachers at all grade levels. Institutions of higher education in this State must meet the standards set forth by the International Reading Association for preservice Reading Teacher Preparation Programs and must submit documentation to the Reading Proficiency Panel to assure that their programs meet the modified standards. The panel will subsequently make recommendations on research-based reading and writing to the department for the certification of educators' preservice training and to the Commission on Higher Education for approval of preservice programs.
(C) A teacher who receives his initial certification in early childhood education, elementary education, or special education after July 1, 2014 will have six years from the date of initial certification during which he must earn a literacy teacher add-on endorsement to maintain his certification. The first required course must be offered at preservice institution where the teacher is employed during the summer immediately following graduation. Subsequent courses may be offered by distance education at school sites or regional campuses of the institutions of higher education.
(D)(1) For teachers certified before July 1, 2014, beginning 2014-2015 and annually thereafter the institutions of higher education that offer a master's in education program in reading-literacy and are accredited by the International Reading Association/National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (IRA/NCATE) shall provide the following required research-based coursework to equip these teachers with a strong understanding of the theory, research, and practices that support the teaching of reading:
(a) for certified early childhood and elementary teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers who work with students in need of intervention and special education services, the required five courses needed to obtain a literacy teacher add-on endorsement;
(b) for certified middle and high school teachers, three of the five courses required for a literacy teacher add-on endorsement, including reading foundations, reading methods, and reading assessment to prepare teachers to understand the cognitive strategies that readers use to create meaning and comprehension with texts; and
(c) for PK-8 administrators including principals, assistant principals, and curriculum specialists and any grade 9-12 administrator and district office administrators with significant responsibility for reading and writing education, two courses including reading foundations and reading instruction and professional development in reading assessments or an equivalent combination of professional development experiences as approved by the Read to Succeed Office.
(2) Teachers and administrators have seven years to obtain the required add-on endorsement and complete the course requirements required by this subsection.
Section 59-155-190. Local school districts are encouraged to create family-school-community partnerships that focus on increasing the volume of reading, in school and at home, during the year and at home and in the community over the summer. Schools and districts should partner with county libraries, community organizations, faith-based institutions, pediatric and family practice medical personnel, businesses, and other groups to provide volunteers, mentors, or tutors to assist with the provision of instructional supports, services, and books that enhance reading development and proficiency. A district shall include specific actions taken to accomplish the requirements of this section in its reading proficiency plan.
Section 59-155-200. The Read to Succeed Office and each school district must plan for and act decisively to engage the families of students as full participating partners in promoting the reading and writing habits and skills development of their children. With support from the Read to Succeed Office, districts and individual schools shall provide families with information about how children progress as readers and writers and how they can support this progress. This family support must include providing time for their child to read as well as reading to the child. To ensure that all families have access to a considerable number and diverse range of books, schools should develop plans for enhancing home libraries and for accessing books from county libraries and school libraries and to inform families about their child's ability to comprehend grade-appropriate texts and how to interpret information about reading that is sent home. The districts and schools shall help families learn about reading and writing through home visits, open houses, South Carolina ETV, video and audio tapes, websites, and school-family events and collaborations that help link the home and school of the student. The information should enable family members to understand the reading and writing skills required for graduation and essential for success in a career.
Section 59-155-210. The board and department shall translate the statutory requirements for reading and writing specified in this act into standards, practices, and procedures for school districts, boards, and their employees and for other organizations as appropriate. In this effort they will solicit the advice of the Reading Proficiency Expert Panel and other education stakeholders who have a deep understanding of reading as well as school boards, administrators, and others who play key roles in facilitating support for and implementation of effective reading instruction."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on March 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM