Wednesday, May 4, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Fallin signed two important education reform measures into law today at a public bill-signing ceremony with education leaders and elected officials.
Fallin signed Senate Bill 346, ending social promotion for students after the third grade. SB 346 requires students in the third grade to demonstrate proficiency in reading before moving on to fourth grade. The bill was a key component of Fallin’s education reform agenda and mentioned in her State of the State address.
“Studies have shown that from kindergarten through the third grade, a child ‘learns to read’, but from fourth grade on, they ‘read to learn,’” said Fallin. “This bill makes sure that every fourth grader has developed the reading proficiency they need to absorb new academic material and succeed in class. Sending an illiterate child on to higher grade levels is setting that child up for failure, and I commend the legislature for sending me a bill that puts a stop to that practice.”
Superintendent Janet Barresi added, “"We'll focus on early intervention so that educators can identify problems and adopt individualized learning strategies with children. Ending social promotion after the third grade will prepare children for success in their most critical learning years."
Fallin also signed into law House Bill 1456, creating an A-F grading system for public schools. The grades measure both overall student performance and student improvement.
“Establishing a grading system like this empowers parents and communities by giving them an easy way to evaluate the quality of the schools they are sending their children to,” said Fallin. “The potential to earn high marks will also give students, teachers and administrators something to strive for.”
Barresi said, “Parents have a right to know how their schools are performing without having to interpret obscure numbers. A new A-F report card for schools will also motivate communities to help schools improve."
Fallin said signing these reforms into law is an important step in building a stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma.
“I’ve always said my number one priority as governor is to create more jobs, and nothing is more important to Oklahoma’s long term economic success than improving the quality of our schools,” said Fallin. “We have both a moral imperative and a strong economic incentive to give our children the tools they need to compete in a competitive global economy. The reform measures signed into law today are all part of that mission.”
Superintendent Barresi said the bill signing was historic.
"In any other year, just one of these reforms would be a significant achievement. To see an entire package of reforms adopted into law in a single year is absolutely historic, and I want to thank Governor Fallin, Speaker Steele, President Pro Temp Bingman and all reform-minded lawmakers for their leadership."
HB 1456 was authored by Rep. Lee Denney and Sen. Clark Jolley. SB 346 was authored by Sen. Jolley and Rep. Sally Kern. Both bills go into effect 90 days from sine die.