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New Montana law aims to help increase literacy among children

Parents who worry their child is struggling with reading or reading comprehension now have a new resource to find help.
Library Books
Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 05, 2023

HAMILTON - Parents who worry their child is struggling with reading or reading comprehension now have a new resource to find help.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed House Bill 352 into law after it passed during the most recent session of Montana’s legislature. The measure provides a way for parents and schools to help children at risk of not meeting literacy standards on schedule.

“It's been well established that by third grade children who are not reading at grade level or meeting literacy standards, they are at high risk of failure across the board academically down the road,” noted Hamilton Republican Rep. David Bedey.
Rep. Bedey credits fellow Representatives Brad Barker and Linda Reksten for work on a bill he believes will lift up struggling readers to help them catch up.

“The premise of House Bill 352 is that if you identify those students most at risk for not meeting that standard through a screening process when they’re four years old and provide to them targeted intervention it increases the odds of being well-positioned for success down the road,” Bedey said.

The bill provides funding for schools to establish a reading curriculum to help those students, provide a summer reading program, or even home instruction that could help students in rural areas.

But it’s not just a program on a platter — they'll be making sure it’s working. It calls for an assessment of those students to see whether or not our targeted interventions are actually working.

This targeted intervention is not mandatory and it’s up to a child’s parents how they want to proceed. But the end goal is student success now and in the future.

“The entire goal is to make sure our children have met literacy standards because reading and literacy is the foundation for all future learning,” Bedey said. “It doesn’t matter [if] it’s science, the social sciences, history or even a career in technical education. If you cannot read and you cannot comprehend, you are not going to be successful."