HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Third-grade students in Alabama have been given more time to increase their reading skills, but that time is running out. The pass or be retained specification in the state’s Literacy Act will resume for the 2023-2024 school year.

The disruption of schooling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has many education professionals and parents concerned about students’ progress. 

Huntsville City Council Members Bill Kling and David Little held a town hall meeting Monday evening – with a focus on education. Huntsville City School Board Members Ryan Renaud and Holly McCarty were also in attendance.       

Renaud says the school system took a direct approach in addressing the reading scores – speaking with teachers and administration, and looking at the scores where they were at the beginning of the year and what they have seen today.

He tells News 19 that they’ve seen tremendous growth.

“I will say it varies from district to district, school to school,” Renaud said. “By and large, we’re seeing really great growth in numbers.

He said he feels the district’s staff has put in an incredible effort to work towards reaching the reading goals.

“We feel like our staff and administration are going above and beyond,” Renaud said. “We’ve used support from interventionists, reading specialists – we’ve been really happy with the program we’ve got.

The board member said the act does bring several unique challenges when it comes to student retention and funding.

“Retention is one of the primary concerns when we look at the Literacy Act,” he said. “We’ve also got challenges in terms of fully funding the Literacy Act – which we were all very excited to hear Gov. Kay Ivey’s emphasis on education coming forth this legislative session. We just hope that emphasis will be put in the right place,” 

Governor Kay Ivey has stated time and time again that education remains her top priority. Ivey will layout her legislative agenda in her state of the state address, which is set to be given Tuesday on the first night of the legislative session.