Norfolk Administrator Speaks Out Against Reading Standards Bill

NORFOLK – School officials are speaking out against a proposed state law regarding reading standards.

Norfolk Public School Superintendent Dr. Jami Jo Thompson took time during Monday’s school board meeting to speak against LB 651. The bill, proposed by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha, would force third graders that don’t meet reading standards to automatically be held back a grade.

Dr. Thompson says the proposal doesn’t take into account what’s best for students.

“LB 651 would require schools to utilize research-based intervention strategies,” Thompson said. “Yet it ignores the research on retention which indicates that it is not an effective strategy.”

Thompson cited studies that showed holding back students can do more damage than good.

“Being retained one year almost doubles a student’s likelihood of dropping out of school,” Thompson said. “Failing twice almost guarantees it.”

Sen. Linehan has said her bill is designed to support educators, and that students that aren’t proficient in reading by third grade fall behind in other subjects. The bill was debated in the legislature last week without an initial vote.

In other action, the school board approved letting bids for a new driveway to be built to the west of Norfolk Middle School extending south to Georgia Avenue in an effort to reduce traffic congestion.

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