OMAHA (KPTM)- A package of proposals, including holding back struggling third graders, has lawmakers and school officials divided.
Nebraska state senator Scott Lautenbaugh presented a list of ideas to Omaha Public Schools that he believes would help the district become more successful. However, OPS officials don't agree with some of his ideas.
Lautenbaugh presented a list of six different ideas to improve the district. Some of them include increasing pay for teachers who are board certified, changing tenure and pension rules. The one idea that has the most attention is holding back third graders who can't pass a reading test.
"What we're doing now is failing too many kids I believe," said Lautenbaugh.
In his proposal, Lautenbaugh said third graders should get the minimum score on the FCAT test. If they don't pass, they would take other tests to prove their proficiency. If the students can't prove those reading skills, they would be held back.
"We do have to show more of a commitment to correcting early on, before we try to pile more on top of that foundation," said Lautenbaugh.
He said students at the third grade level should be reading to learn, not learning to read. But OPS officials don't believe in this particular vision.
"To simply say 'you missed one test, as a result you're going to repeat that whole grade level' runs contrary to common sense," said Dr. ReNae Kehrberg, OPS assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction and assessment.
Kehrberg believes holding students back could increase drop out rates. She encourages Lautenbaugh to consider the districts multiple resources as an alternative.
"We have one of the largest summer school programs in the state of Nebraska because we know more time matters. More time in summer school, more time after school, more time during the school day for high engagement instruction. Those things matter," said Kehrberg.
Lautenbaugh also proposed raising graduation requirements. He said funds would be set aside for 10th graders to take to PSAT test as a requirement. He believes this would better prepare students for the SAT or ACT tests.
Lautenbaugh said he is in the early stages of this proposal. He hasn't drafted a bill yet, but said he will be presenting his ideas once legislation starts back up in January.
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