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General Assembly may expand remedial reading program to middle schools

Students who spent their early school years learning to read online because of COVID-19 are still, in many cases, below grade level. Last year lawmakers approved a bill to put more reading specialists in kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms and to provide teachers with more training and educational materials.

Delegate Carrie Coyner hopes to expand remedial reading to 4th-8th graders.
Carrie Coyner
Delegate Carrie Coyner hopes to expand remedial reading to 4th-8th graders.

This year, Delegate Carrie Coyner hopes to help older kids. “Here we were able for the first time ever to include reading specialists for our kindergartener through third graders at a ratio of one to 550," she says. "Our bill this year expands that ratio to 4th through 8th grade students in Virginia.”

Her bill also includes money to develop a test to see why students might be struggling.

“When you are in 4th through 8th grade there is no screening tool for us to know what your gaps are in literacy. If you fail a reading SOL, we just simply know you can’t comprehend on grade level. We don’t know why,” she explains.

Governor Youngkin has said he will support expanded efforts for 4th and 5th graders, but Coyner and Senator Louise Lucas hope they can find money to support the extra reading instruction in middle school too.

“They experienced the greatest gaps in critical years of literacy, and our data shows us that we still have a lot of work to do to catch them up," Coyner says.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief