House bills aiming to expand education options pass second readings

Two public education bills that would provide greater educational options for Montana students both passed their second readings in the House Friday afternoon. 

House Bill 352 sponsored by Rep. Brad Barker, R-Roberts, would provide statewide intervention options to early-aged kids across the state while House Bill 393 by Rep. Sue Vinton, R-Billings, would allow additional funding opportunities for families with special needs students. Both passed on 76-24 and 64-36 votes respectively.

Barker’s bill specifically aims to establish targeted interventions for kids graded K-2 to ensure improved proficiency in the third grade when they begin taking standardized tests. It would do so by establishing a competency test for children prior to starting kindergarten to identify those who are at-risk of falling behind.

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Additionally, districts would have the option to opt-in to the test and utilize a home-based literacy program, an early literacy jump-start program for students before they enter grades K-3 and early enrollment into kindergarten for children aged four identified as at-risk.

The programs would be operated and overseen by the board of public education and office of

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