Bill Summary for S 438 (2019-2020)

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Summary date: 

Apr 1 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 438 (Public) Filed Monday, April 1, 2019
Intro. by Berger.

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Bill summary

Amends GS 115C-83.6, concerning early grade reading proficiency, to require K-3 grade students to receive high-quality core reading instruction (not previously mandated). Further requires the students be assessed with universal screening measures for literacy (not previously specified), using valid and relative formative and diagnostic reading assessments made available to local school administrative units by the State Board of Education (State Board) under GS 115C-174.11. Now provides for the specific supports and services to be used to address difficulty with reading development to include: (1) the development of an Individual Reading Plan (IRP) for students identified as below grade level, as specified, that is continually adjusted based on data collection specific to the identified student and (2) notifying a student's parent or guardian of the student's identified deficit in one or more critical reading skills and that an IRP has been developed. Details the criteria for IRPs and notice. Makes conforming changes to refer to deficits in critical reading skill rather than reading comprehension below grade level in the context of reading camp enrollment.

Directs the Department of Public Instruction to develop a Digital Children's Reading Initiative (Initiative) to increase the percentage of reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Requires the Initiative to provide free tools and resources to assist families in cultivating reading proficiency. Provides for DPI to vet third party resources to link to the Initiative and frequently monitor links for currency and consistency with the purpose. Details requirements for availability and access to the resources. Directs DPI to make home activities, printables, and games available on seven specific literacy skills, appropriate for each grade level. Requires DPI to disseminate the Initiative to all local units by January 15, 2020, and requires each local unit to make the Initiative resources accessible directly through the unit's website no later than July 1, 2020, as specified. Allows local school administrative units to compile and add additional resources that meet the requirements of the act provided to them by DPI. Also requires printable activities to be provided in hard copy to students who do not have digital access at home and be provided to all students as a supplement to digital resources as well. Applies beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

Requires the DPI Superintendent to convene a task force of members of the UNC Board of Governors, the State Board of Community Colleges, NC Independent Colleges and Universities, the State Board, and the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC), or their designees, to develop a Comprehensive Plan to Improve Literacy Instruction (Plan). Requires the Plan to have clear goals to ensure public school literacy instruction is evidence-based, designed to improve outcomes for children in gaining early literacy skill, and consistently delivered by teachers. Further details the Plan's requirements and charges the Plan to also recommend changes to existing State programs as well as new initiatives to facilitate the goals of the Plan. Enumerates 11 points that must be considered in developing the Plan, including research on early childhood learning and the number and type of continuing education credits related to literacy that should be required for renewal of a teacher license. Directs the Superintendent to report to the specified NCGA committee by March 15, 2020, as specified.

Amends GS 115C-296.5 to direct the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) to prioritize the delivery of early learning and literacy instruction services through increasing the number of teachers participating in their evidence-based professional development programs in early learning and literacy instruction that meet the goals of the Comprehensive Plan to Improve Literacy Instruction (Plan), as defined in GS 115C-269.1 as enacted. Eliminates the current provision that requires NCCAT to prioritize admission for teachers with 15 years or less teaching experience. Modifies the reporting requirements to now require the Executive Director of NCCAT to submit a copy of its annual report to the Superintendent (was only the Chair of the State Board). Additionally sets forth minimum requirements of the report to include data on teachers served by NCCAT's professional development programs and evaluation data on the programs offered by NCCAT. Applies to programs offered by NCCAT on or after July 1, 2020.

Directs NCCAT to collaborate with DPI and educator preparation programs (EPPs) selected by the UNC System Office in designing professional development programs to offer to teachers to align with the most recent standards and curriculum for literacy instruction in K-3 grades. Further requires NCCAT to meet the goals and recommendations set forth in the Plan developed pursuant to the act for purposes of meeting the requirements of GS 115C-296.5, as amended.

Enacts GS 115C-269.1(9a), adding Comprehensive Plan to Improve Literacy Instruction to the defined terms concerning EPPs. Amends GS 115C-269.20, which sets forth minimum content and pedagogy requirements of EPPs. Now requires EPPs providing training for elementary education teachers to include coursework in the teaching of reading and writing approved by the State Board as high-quality, evidence-based training for the preparation of educators that meets the goals for literacy instruction based on the Plan (was, adequate coursework in the teaching of reading and writing). Further requires EPPs providing training for elementary and special education general curriculum teachers to ensure that students receive instruction in early literacy intervention strategies and practices which are aligned with the goals for literacy established in the Plan (was, only those aligned with State and national reading standards). Applies to EPPs applying for approval or renewal on or after July 1, 2020.

Directs the State Board and DPI to develop or identify literacy curriculum and instruction standards to ensure that methods throughout the State are consistent and closely aligned with Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C (Read to Achieve Program). Directs the State Board and DPI to incorporate only the most effective evidence-based literacy curriculum and instruction methods into the standards developed, based on the goals and recommendations of the Plan. Directs the State Board to provide local boards the standards developed, a model literacy curriculum, and an example literacy curriculum which does not meet the standards along with an explanatory guide, no later than June 30, 2020. Directs each local unit to evaluate its literacy curriculum and instruction and make necessary modifications to adhere to the standards developed, or adopt the model provided by the State Board. Requires local units to submit explanation of its literacy curriculum and instruction aligned with the standards developed no later than December 15, 2020.

Directs Service Support Coordinators or other designated staff to work to ensure statewide implementation of the standards developed by the State Board, as specified. Requires review and modification of all literacy instruction statewide to be complete no later than November 15, 2021. Requires implementation of modifications beginning with the 2022-23 school year. 

Directs the State Board and DPI to conduct an analysis of reading camps throughout the state to determine which camp activities and instructional methods are most effective in furthering reading development. Requires the State Board and DPI to develop reading camp standards based on the analysis and report to the specified NCGA committee no later than December 15, 2019, on the standards developed and recommended legislation.

Adds a new requirement for each local unit to submit to DPI a plan for the operation of its reading camps, beginning with reading camps corresponding to the 2019-20 school year, no later than March 1, 2020. Details plan criteria, including the unit's efforts to staffing the most qualified teachers possible. Requires DPI to review each plan and provide feedback, no later than May 15, 2020, to ensure instruction closely aligns with the goals of the Read to Achieve Program (Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C), meets the minimum requirements of GS 115C-83.3, as amended, and complies with the reading camp standards published by the State Board. Allows DPI to provide any form, and if so, requires local units to submit their plans on the form.

Amends GS 115C-83.3, removing the requirement that the 72-hour reading instruction requirement of reading camps be provided over no less than three weeks for students in schools using calendars other than year-round calendars. 

Enacts GS 115C-83.6A, detailing the procedure and criteria for local units to submit plans for the operation of reading camps by October 1 of each year, and DPI to review, provide feedback, and approve reading camp plans. Requires DPI to notify each unit of its approval or denial and feedback no later than February 15. Allows a local unit to submit an amended plan no later than March 15, and requires DPI to notify the unit of approval or denial no later than April 15. Prohibits State-approved reading camp funds from being released without plan approval by April 15. Requires any local units denied approval to use local funds to fulfill the requirement to provide a reading camp. Applies beginning with the 2020-21 school year to reading camps corresponding to that school year.

Directs the State Board to analyze the passage rate for alternative assessments in order to determine the comparative utility of each alternative assessment based on data collected pursuant to GS 115C-83.10 (as amended by SL 2018-5). Directs the State Board to submit a report of the results to the specified NCGA committee no later than January 15, 2020, along with any recommendations to eliminate certain alternative assessments. 

Directs DPI to create a uniform template for all data collected pursuant to Part 1A, Article 8, GS Chapter 115C (Read to Achieve Program), beginning with data collected during the 2013-14 school year and each subsequent school year. Requires clear designation for each data component reported and provides parameters for values and measures used. Requires data values to be compiled for each data component for each school year and provided to the specified NCGA committee in the uniform template no later than April 15, 2020. Further amends GS 115C-83.6 to make conforming changes to the data DPI must provide for K-3 grades regarding reading proficiency for Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) analysis, and to specify that data values for the three consecutive years must be provided. Applies beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Deems a teacher who has earned a reading bonus and who provides instruction throughout a full reading camp to have completed two continuing education credits related to literacy as required by GS 115C-27.30(b)(2).

Permits students attending reading camp, for reading camps corresponding to the 2019-20 school year, to be taught by unlicensed retired classroom teachers of K-3 grades, based on demonstrated outcomes or improvement of difficulties as specified. Allows a retired teacher to begin providing reading camp instruction after six months immediately following the effective date of retirement. Provides for compensation of $2,000 upon completion of the camp.

Directs DPI to contract with NC State to continue the Wolfpack Works pilot program during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years from the funds appropriated to DPI for the 2019-21 fiscal biennium for the Excellent Public Schools Act, Read to Achieve Program. Allows a contract extension, and the use of funds to expand the pilot program by collaborating with other constituent institutions, if determined in the best interest of students in the state, as determined by DPI. Prohibits constituent institutions from charging indirect facilities and administrative costs against the funding. Directs DPI to submit a report to the specified NCGA committee by March 15 of each year that funds are used. Details report requirements. Effective July 1, 2019.