Based on conversation with Erica Shrader, Sen. Berger’s staff, here is the latest on S795:
Charter schools, while still required to administer the new tests the SBE will come up with (including third grade literacy) will NOT be required to conduct summer reading camps for all third graders who do not demonstrate proficiency in reading. Charter schools WILL be required to provide “reading interventions” to those students which MAY include summer reading camps, but could also (or alternatively) consist of 90 daily minutes of uninterrupted, evidence-based reading instruction, accelerated reading classes, or transition classes. The intent of the proposed law is to hold charter schools to the same standards as other public schools, but to allow them more freedom and flexibility in achieving those standards. The bill defines some of the terms above as follows:
“Accelerated reading class” means a class where focused instructional supports and services are provided to increase a student’s reading level at least two grades in one school year.
“Reading interventions” mean evidence-based strategies frequently used to remediate reading deficiencies and in led, but are not limited to, individual instruction, tutoring, or mentoring that target specific reading skills and abilities.
“Transitional classes” means a combined third and fourth grade class specifically designed to produce learning gains sufficient to meet fourth grade performance standards while continuing to remediate areas of reading deficiency.
A few other points from our discussion:
* State employees will have a new leave program in which they may volunteer their services for five hours a month in a public school (including charter schools) literacy program.
* All final exams for year-long courses will be administered in the final ten days of the school year, and for semester-long courses the final five days.
* The school year will consist of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction. Current law calls for 185 days AND 1,025 hours.
Bear in mind that the bill has yet to be heard in any House committee (it has cleared the Senate) and thus it could still be amended in committee or on the House floor. Also, time is running out on this session and it may not even be voted on before the session ends. Even if it passes in the House, it will have to pass again in the Senate if the House changes anything in it. And finally, the governor could veto the bill if it reaches her desk.