15-701. Common school; promotions; requirements; certificate; supervision of eighth grades by superintendent of high school district; high school admissions; academic credit; definition
A. The state board of education shall:
1. Prescribe a minimum course of study incorporating the academic standards adopted by the state board of education to be taught in the common schools.
2. Prescribe competency requirements for the promotion of pupils from the eighth grade and competency requirements for the promotion of pupils from the third grade incorporating the academic standards in at least the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. The competency requirements for the promotion of pupils from the third grade shall include the following:
(a) A requirement that a pupil not be promoted from the third grade if the pupil obtains a score on the reading portion of the statewide assessment that does not demonstrate sufficient reading skills as established by the state board. A pupil may not be retained if data regarding the pupil's performance on the statewide assessment is not available before the end of the current academic year. A pupil who is not retained due to the unavailability of test data must receive evidence-based intervention and remedial strategies pursuant to subdivision (c) of this paragraph if the third grade assessment data subsequently does not demonstrate sufficient reading skills.
(b) A mechanism to allow a school district governing board or the governing body of a charter school to promote from the third grade a pupil who does not demonstrate sufficient reading skills pursuant to subdivision (a) of this paragraph if the pupil:
(i) Is an English learner or a limited English proficient student as defined in section 15-751 and has had fewer than two years of English language instruction.
(ii) Is in the process of a special education referral or evaluation for placement in special education, has been diagnosed as having a significant reading impairment, including dyslexia, or is a child with a disability as defined in section 15-761 if the pupil's individualized education program team and the pupil's parent or guardian agree that promotion is appropriate based on the pupil's individualized education program.
(iii) Has demonstrated or subsequently demonstrates sufficient reading skills or adequate progress toward sufficient reading skills of the third grade reading standards as evidenced through a collection of reading assessments approved by the state board of education, which includes an alternative standardized reading assessment approved by the state board.
(iv) Receives intervention and remedial services during the summer or a subsequent school year pursuant to subdivision (c) of this paragraph and demonstrates sufficient progress based on guidelines issued pursuant to subsection B, paragraph 7 of this section.
(c) Evidence-based intervention and remedial strategies developed by the state board of education for pupils who are not promoted from the third grade. A school district governing board or the governing body of a charter school shall offer more than one of the intervention and remedial strategies developed by the state board of education. The parent or guardian of a pupil who is not promoted from the third grade and the pupil's teacher and principal may choose the most appropriate intervention and remedial strategies that will be provided to that pupil. The intervention and remedial strategies developed by the state board of education shall include:
(i) A requirement that the pupil be assigned for evidence-based reading instruction by a different teacher who was designated in that teacher's most recent performance evaluation in one of the top two performance classifications.
(ii) Summer school reading instruction.
(iii) In the next academic year, intensive reading instruction that occurs before, during or after the regular school day, or any combination of before, during and after the regular school day.
(iv) Small group and teacher-led evidence-based reading instruction, which may include computer-based or online reading instruction.
(d) A requirement that a school district governing board or charter school governing body that promotes a pupil pursuant to subdivision (b) of this paragraph provide annual reporting to the department of education on or before October 1 that includes information on the total number of pupils subject to the retention provisions of subdivision (a) of this paragraph, the total number of students promoted pursuant to subdivision (b) of this paragraph, the total number of pupils retained in grade three and the interventions administered pursuant to subdivision (c) of this paragraph.
3. Provide for universal screening of pupils in preschool programs, kindergarten programs and grades one through three that is designed to identify pupils who have reading deficiencies pursuant to section 15-704. If sufficient monies are appropriated, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, the state board of education shall adopt a statewide kindergarten entry evaluation tool to administer to pupils in kindergarten programs within forty-five calendar days after the beginning of each school year or within forty-five calendar days after a pupil enrolls.
4. Develop evidence-based intervention and remedial strategies pursuant to paragraph 2, subdivision (c) of this subsection for pupils in kindergarten programs and grades one through three who are identified as having reading deficiencies pursuant to section 15-704.
5. Distribute guidelines for the school districts to follow in prescribing criteria for the promotion of pupils from grade to grade in the common schools. These guidelines shall include recommended procedures for ensuring that the cultural background of a pupil is taken into consideration when criteria for promotion are being applied.
B. School districts and charter schools shall provide annual written notification to parents of pupils in kindergarten programs and first, second and third grades that a pupil who does not demonstrate sufficient reading skills pursuant to subsection A of this section will not be promoted from the third grade. School districts and charter schools shall identify each pupil who is at risk of reading below grade level in kindergarten and grades one, two and three, based on local or statewide assessments, and shall provide to the parent of that pupil a specific written notification of the reading deficiency within three weeks after identifying the reading deficiency. The notification shall include the following information:
1. A description of the pupil's specific individual needs.
2. A description of the current reading services provided to the pupil.
3. A description of the available supplemental instructional services and supporting programs that are designed to remediate reading deficiencies. Each school district or charter school shall offer more than one evidence-based intervention strategy and more than one remedial strategy developed by the state board of education for pupils with reading deficiencies. The notification shall list the intervention and remedial strategies offered and shall instruct the parent to choose, in consultation with the pupil's teacher, the most appropriate strategies to be provided and implemented for that child.
4. Parental strategies to assist the pupil to attain reading proficiency.
5. The frequency with which the school district or charter school will provide timely updates and information to the parent on the pupil's progress toward reading proficiency.
6. A statement that the pupil will not be promoted from the third grade if the pupil does not demonstrate sufficient reading skills pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 2, subdivision (a) of this section, unless the pupil is exempt from mandatory retention in grade three or the pupil qualifies for an exemption pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 2, subdivision (b) of this section.
7. A description of the school district or charter school policies on midyear promotion to a higher grade.
C. Pursuant to the guidelines that the state board of education distributes, the governing board of a school district shall:
1. Prescribe curricula that include the academic standards in the required subject areas pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section.
2. Prescribe criteria for the promotion of pupils from grade to grade in the common schools in the school district. These criteria shall include accomplishment of the academic standards in at least reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies, as determined by district assessment. Other criteria may include additional measures of academic achievement and attendance.
D. The governing board may prescribe the course of study and competency requirements for promotion that are in addition to or higher than the course of study and competency requirements the state board prescribes.
E. A teacher shall determine whether to promote or retain a pupil in a grade in a common school on the basis of the prescribed criteria. The governing board, if it reviews the decision of a teacher to promote or retain a pupil in a grade in a common school as provided in section 15-342, paragraph 11, shall base its decision on the prescribed criteria.
F. A governing board may provide and issue certificates of promotion to pupils whom it promotes from the eighth grade of a common school. Such certificates shall be signed by the principal or superintendent of schools. If there is no principal or superintendent of schools, the certificates shall be signed by the teacher of an eighth grade. The certificates shall admit the holders to any high school in the state.
G. Within any high school district or union high school district, the superintendent of the high school district shall supervise the work of the eighth grade of all schools employing no superintendent or principal.
H. A school district shall not deny a pupil who is between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one years admission to a high school because the pupil does not hold an eighth grade certificate. Governing boards shall establish procedures for determining the admissibility of pupils who are under sixteen years of age and who do not hold eighth grade certificates.
I. The state board of education shall adopt rules to allow common school pupils who can demonstrate competency in a particular academic course or subject to obtain academic credit for the course or subject without enrolling in the course or subject.
J. A school district may conduct a ceremony to honor pupils who have been promoted from the eighth grade.
K. For the purposes of this section, "dyslexia" means a condition that:
1. Is neurological in origin.
2. Is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities, including difficulties that typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and to the provision of effective classroom instruction.
3. May include secondary consequences such as problems with reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that may impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.