(a) The Legislature finds that:
(1) In the early learning years, ensuring that each student masters the content and skills needed for mastery at the next grade level is critically important for student success;
(2) Students who do not demonstrate grade-level proficiency in reading by the end of third grade become increasingly less likely to succeed at each successive grade level and often drop out of school prior to graduation;
(3) State board policy requires every school to establish a process for ensuring the developmental and academic progress of all students. This process is to be coordinated by a school student assistance team that reviews student developmental and academic needs that have persisted despite being addressed through instruction, intervention, and as applicable, supports for personalized learning. Ensuring the developmental and academic success of all students requires every school to implement, in an equitable manner, programs during and after the instructional day at the appropriate instructional levels that contribute to the success of students; and
(4) To ensure that all students read proficiently by the end of third grade, a statewide comprehensive approach to early literacy is required. This approach shall focus on supports during the early learning years which include schools and engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children.
(b) The state board shall, in accordance with the provisions of article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, promulgate legislative rules as necessary to effectuate the provisions of this section. The rules shall provide for at least the following:
(1) Development of a comprehensive, systemic approach to close the reading achievement gap by third grade, which targets school readiness, the attendance gap, summer learning loss and a transformative intervention framework for student and learning supports;
(2) Ensuring all West Virginia children have access to high quality early learning experiences that focus on healthy learners as part of the school readiness model, resulting in increased populations of children on target for healthy development prior to entering first grade;
(3) Closing the attendance gap to certify West Virginia children attend school regularly and limit chronic absenteeism in the early grades;
(4) Assisting county boards in establishing and operating targeted, sustained extended day and extended year reading programs to ensure grade level proficiency and battle summer learning loss;
(5) Maximizing family engagement to result in the development of a culture of literacy from birth through third grade;
(6) Supporting high quality schools and a workforce prepared to address early literacy, identification of interventions, and implementation of a system of intervention for children not reaching grade level proficiency;
(7) Ensuring the employment of qualified teachers and service personnel in accordance with the provisions of section thirty-nine, article five of this chapter and section seven-c, article four, chapter eighteen-a of this code to provide instruction to students enrolled in early literacy support programs;
(8) Creating a formula or grant-based program for the distribution of funds appropriated specifically for the purposes of this section or otherwise available for the support of a targeted, comprehensive system of support for early literacy;
(9) Providing support for transportation and healthy foods for students required to attend after-school and extended year early literacy instructional support programs and supervision at the school that accommodates the typical work schedules of parents; and
(10) Receiving from county boards any applications and annual reports required by rule of the state board.
(c) A student in grades kindergarten through three who is recommended by the student assistance team or the student's classroom teacher for additional assistance in one or more of the key standards of English Language Arts, including reading, speaking and listening, writing or language may be required to attend an extended year early literacy instructional support program as a condition for promotion if:
(1) The student has been provided additional academic help through an in-school or after-school early literacy instructional support program and, prior to the end of the school year, the student assistance team or the student's classroom teacher recommends that further additional academic help is needed for the student to be successful at the next grade level; and
(2) The county board has established an early literacy instructional support program during the extended year for the student's grade level.
(d) County boards shall provide high-quality educational facilities, equipment and services to support early literacy instructional support programs established pursuant to this section. Extended year programs may be provided at a central location for kindergarten through third graders who qualify for the program.
(e) This section may not be construed to prohibit a classroom teacher from recommending the grade level retention of a student based upon the student's lack of mastery of the subject matter and preparation for the subject matter at the next grade level.
(f) This section may not be construed to affect the individualized education plans of exceptional students.
(g) This section may not be construed to limit the authority of the county board to establish an extended year program in accordance with section thirty-nine, article five of this chapter. County boards may not charge tuition for enrollment in early literacy instructional support programs established pursuant to this section.
(h) Each county board shall prepare to implement the provisions of this section and the provisions of the state board rule required by subsection (b) of this section. The preparations shall at least include planning, ensuring a process for ensuring the developmental and academic progress of all students through the auspices of student assistance teams as currently required by state board policy and performing a needs assessment to determine the potential capacity requirements for the system of support for early learners.
(i) The state board shall provide a report describing the proposed implementation of the transformative system of support for early literacy to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability on or before July 1, 2014.
(j) The state board shall provide a comprehensive report regarding the status of the transformative system of support for early literacy to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, and the Governor on November 1, 2014, and annually on November 1 on each year thereafter. The report shall address, at a minimum, the progress of the program throughout the state, its effect on student achievement and the sources of the funding both available to and used by the program.
(k) The provisions of this section are subject to the availability of funds from legislative appropriation or other sources specifically designated for the purposes of this section. If a county board determines that adequate funds are not available for full implementation of a transformative system of support for early literacy in the county, the county board may implement its program in phases by first establishing early literacy instructional support programs in the early readiness grades (Kindergarten), then the primary grades (Grades 1-2), and then establishing an early literacy instructional support program for the third grade once the county board determines that adequate funds are available.