Effective July 1, 2014, South Carolina established state-wide reading policy via a law known as the Read to Succeed (RTS) Act. The law is intended to increase the number of K-12 students who are able to comprehend grade level text. The law requires that students have knowledgeable teachers, administrators, and school psychologists; access to diverse texts; time to read; and, as needed supplemental support.
The law requires all pre-service K-5 teachers have 12 hours in reading and pre-service 6-12 grade teachers have six hours in reading. These courses must address a set of “essential competencies” designed collaboratively with faculty from Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) and the about-to-be-established state-level RTS Office. In-service K-5 teachers and all special education teachers who teach reading are required to add-on state certification as a Literacy Teacher. They have ten years to do so but must take at least once course every five years. In-service middle level and secondary teachers have six years to take one of the courses which leads to Literacy Teacher. Principals and school psychologists also have six years to take at least one course. All elementary schools must have Literacy Coaches. State monies were provided to either fully or partially cover this cost. Coaches have six years to obtain the state’s Literacy Coach add-on endorsement.
All districts must develop a district-wide reading plan. The plan consists of their answers a set of questions about how they will provide what is needed (e.g., books, time to read, knowledgeable teachers, knowledgeable staff, involved and informed parents) to help ensure that all students progress as readers and are able to comprehend grade-level text.
Within K-5 schools, students must have 90 minutes a day of literacy instruction and all students who need additional support are required to have 30 minutes a day of supplemental support (e.g., book clubs. Across the K-12 continuum, schools are required to provide appropriate supplemental support until students are able to comprehend grade level texts.
Summer reading camps are provided, without cost, to all K-5 students who cannot yet comprehend grade level text.
Schools are expected to work collaboratively with parents/guardians to help them understand how to best support their child(ren) as readers. Schools and communities are expected to collaborate to increase the volume of reading that students do in and out of school. Pre-school programs are also required to help parents learn how to support the literacy development and children.
Third grade students who read at the equivalent of Not Met 1 on the state test (which equates to reading about two years below grade level) are required to attend a summer reading camp. While there are several good cause exemptions, students who are still reading two years or more below grade level by the end of the summer will not be promoted to the fourth grade but will spend a year in a specially designed literacy rich classroom. The decision about grade level competency can be determined by portfolio rather than by a standardized test.