Counties Request State Support to Expanded Eligibility for Supplemental Reading Instruction

On March 8, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 1091 – Education – Screening Requirements for Students With Reading Difficulties – Alterations with amendments.

This bill stipulates that public schools must screen all transfer students — in addition to all students for whom English is not a first language — for reading difficulties. If their screening results suggest that the student will have difficulty with reading at their grade level, the bill further mandates that schools provide these students with supplemental instruction.

Under current practice, eligibility for these screenings is much more limited in scope. To account for the potentially meaningful fiscal impact attendant to expanding eligibility for specialized reading instruction, counties suggest an amendment tying the associated costs to State funds.

From the MACo Testimony:

HB 1091 would require screenings for any student transferring to a public school, at any grade level, as well as to all students whose families’ primary language at home is one other than English. Presumably, with the substantial increase in screenings, the demand and requirement for supplemental reading instruction will also increase. Counties and local education agencies understand the critical importance of healthy vision in the success of our students. Counties have been engaged on various iterations of this bill for a long time and welcome further collaboration on it. However, counties are concerned with the potentially significant fiscal impact of HB 1091 to schools and counties – especially those associated with more of the student body receiving supplemental reading instruction, which could require hiring additional staff.

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