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DECATUR, Ala. – A new bill has been filed relating to Alabama’s 2019 Literacy Act. Most provisions in the literacy act have already gone into effect, but the bill focuses on one that is currently set to start during the 2021-2022 school year.

It’s a retention requirement that would hold back third-graders who aren’t reading at grade level yet.

The new bill clarifies language used in the Literacy Act, among other specializing items. It would also include pushing the implementation of that policy to the 2022-2023 school year.

State Representative Terri Collins of Decatur is sponsoring the bill, she also sponsored the 2019 Literacy Act.

At the time, Alabama students ranked close to last in the nation for reading, a skill Collins says is crucial to succeed in learning in future grades.

Once the pandemic struck, talk began of delaying the requirement last year, with disruptions causing a dip in learning for many students across the state.

One other COVID disruption was a delay in ACAP testing, a comprehensive assessment students took for the first time last year, though it was originally scheduled for 2020.

Collins says getting more data is crucial to know how the literacy act is working before implementing the retention policy.

“The goal is not to hold any child back. The goal is that all our children are reading before they get to fourth grade where they’re expected to know how to read to learn,” Collins said. “If they’re not reading at a level that they understand, the rest of their academic career, they’ll just get further and further behind because they’re not prepared, and that’s what the goal is.

She says stats from before and after the act’s portions that have gone into effect are showing positive trends already. One is a shift in 37 of the 52 schools that make up the state’s bottom 5% of learning. Those schools have been lifted out of that group.

Collins said the bill should be in the Education Policy Committee Wednesday afternoon. If it gets a favorable report, she said it could reach the house floor as soon as Thursday or Friday.

31 lawmakers have co-sponsored the bill and Collins is optimistic it will get passed.