It came down to the final day but Governor Kay Ivey decided to veto a bill that would delay the Alabama Literacy Act’s 3rd grade mandate.

The mandate attached to the Literacy Act says that all 3rd grade students not reading on grade level are to be held back from going on to the 4th grade.

This particular bill would have delayed that mandate for one year. The mandate will now go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year as it was originally written in the act.

District 27 Rep. Wes Kitchens said he was a proponent of the bill and hoped to see Gov. Ivey sign it into law. He, along with other proponents of the bill, felt the past school year was too altered due to the pandemic to accurately judge test scores.

“After meeting with local administrators and classroom teachers, it was clear to me that we needed to take a serious look at delaying this act,” he said. “Everyone was in agreement that we all want students to excel in reading. However, with classrooms vacated over the past year due to COVID-19 and students trying to learn virtually, it is almost certain that every student may need some time to catch back up. If students did not have the resources provided in a traditional classroom, there is certain to be an undue burden on our schools by forcing large numbers of students to repeat a grade. From having the necessary teaching units to the space required for the classrooms, schools will be having to make some serious decisions without this delay.”

Gov. Ivey released the following statement on her decision to veto the bill.

“Everyone agrees that the past 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard on all Alabamians, including school personnel, students and parents,” she said. “However, to establish any delay at all in the Alabama Literacy Act prior to analyzing the 2020-2021 summative assessment data for reading would be hasty and premature. Therefore, I have notified the sponsors of the promotion policy delay that I have vetoed SB 94.”

Gov. Ivey continued, “Furthermore, as president of the Alabama State Board of Education, I am requesting that the state superintendent of education and his staff provide the board, and the public, a full and complete review of the Spring 2021 Assessment results in all subjects and grades, but in particular the data on reading in the early grades as soon as the data are available and have been analyzed. Once that is completed, I will ask the Alabama Committee on Grade Level Reading to review the relevant data and make recommendations regarding any necessary action. All the aforementioned work can take place this year, well ahead of any deadlines identified in the Alabama Literacy Act.”

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