Read to Succeed Act: Effective July 1, 2014, South Carolina established state-wide reading policy via a law known as the Read to Succeed (R2S) Act. The law is intended to increase the number of K-12 students who are able to comprehend grade level text. The law requires that students have knowledgeable teachers, administrators, and school psychologists; access to diverse texts; time to read; and, as needed supplemental support.
The part of the bill about retraining teachers would mandate that all 52,000 current teachers as well as school administrators take college courses to earn a literacy “endorsement,” Education Oversight Committee officials said.
The bill is patterned after a program called Just Read, Florida! The Education Oversight Committee picked it as a model after studying the approaches taken by other states that have had success in improving students’ reading skills.
The Florida program, initiated by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, is credited with helping raise Florida students’ reading scores between 2001 and 2010. Students did better in each grade level tested, grades 3-10.
South Carolina’s reading test scores, as measured by the National Assessment for Educational Progress, did not improve between the 2011 and 2013 exams. Governor Nikki Haley noted that students who can’t read by fourth grade tend to fair worse in high school than their peers and are more likely to drop out of school. R2S is scheduled to go into effect in South Carolina Schools during the 2017-2018 school year. Legislators who worked on or supported the bill believe that the expansion of the kindergarten program will be critical to the law’s success.
One of the main components of this legislation is to establish a Read to Succeed Office within the state Department of Education to administer professional development for teachers and to assist higher education institutes restructure their programs to provide more training in literacy for all new teachers. That restructuring is the subject of ongoing political debate and it is unclear how institutes will implement additional coursework mandated by this new law. Candice L. Walsh (Program Manager for Read to Succeed) and her team will continue to update and add information to the site linked above as the SCDE starts to implement the law. That site will have a FAQ section in addition to PowerPoints and documents related to educator licensing for R2S. Please check that site for the most current information.
A complete copy of the bill (R313, S516) can be downloaded here.
To assist members of SCMEA discuss this bill with their administrators, Christine Fisher (SCMEA Government Relations Chair; Arts in Basic Curriculum Project Director) has culled the information that speaks directly to the arts found in the bill. That information can be found in this document.
This legislation will no doubt impact all current and future SC music educators. Please check the Resources page often for updates regarding teacher training as part of this new policy.