Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

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House Bill 272 – A Critical Conversation Started on 3rd Grade Proficiency

The House Education Committee today passed a revised version (called a committee substitute) of House Bill 272.  The legislation, sponsored by Representative James Tipton, reflects a meaningful first step to address Kentucky’s need to increase student achievement in the early grades.  A need that is critical to future student success and Kentucky’s efforts to close persistent achievement gaps.

The bill in its original form (as introduced) took a broad, comprehensive approach in suggesting new and revised strategies to improve 3rd grade reading and math proficiency in Kentucky.  This included addressing diagnostic assessments and universal screening, teacher preparation and professional development, parental engagement, intervention and supports, and grade retention.  Addressing many of these areas will be critical to increasing student achievement, but the details are complex and will require broad buy-in and investment to be successful.

Based on feedback from numerous stakeholders, the committee substitute that passed today focused only on the single component of ensuring Kentucky’s teacher preparation programs at our colleges and universities include necessary training related to reading and math in the early grades, as well as demonstrate competency on reading and math teacher preparation tests.

Including explicit instruction and training within teacher preparation programs on early reading and math is a positive step.  Research indicates that teachers in the early grades may struggle with certain aspects of reading and math instruction based on the quality of their preparation and professional development. Addressing these issues in teacher preparation programs can ensure preservice teachers are ready to enter the profession with the best chance of success. 

In his testimony on the committee substitute today, Representative Tipton expressed his commitment to continuing this important conversation during the interim.  Improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps in the early grades will require more champions – including legislators, community and business leaders, and educators – and it is great to hear the promise of more engagement with stakeholders to find the best possible solutions. Let’s get the conversation started!

Find more Prichard Committee resources on Kindergarten through 3rd grade strategies here, including the importance of increased student learning time, improving what and how students are taught, and early and effective interventions.

Since 1983, the Prichard Committee has worked to study priority issues, inform the public and policy makers about best practices and engage citizens, business leaders, families, students, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states for education excellence and equity for all children, from their earliest years through postsecondary education.