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Language Development & Reading Pilot Program SB 468
APPROPRIATION (dollars in thousands)
or Non-Rec
General Fund
(Parenthesis ( ) Indicate Expenditure Decreases)
LFC Files
Responses Received From
Public Education Department (PED)
Department of Finance & Administration (DFA)
Synopsis of Bill
Senate Bill 468 appropriates $2,000.0 from the general fund to the Public Education Department
for expenditure in Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 to establish a pilot research program for a
contractor to provide participating schools and participating students an intensive neuroscience-
driven language development and reading proficiency intervention.
Senate Bill 468 requires the Public Education Department to:
Adopt criteria for selection of a contractor which include neuroscience-based,
scientifically validated intervention methods and instructional tools that have been proven
to accelerate learning, cognitive ability and language and reading proficiency.
Consider the results for inclusion within a school improvement, corrective action and
school restructuring framework.
Report to the Legislative Education Study Committee no later than October 1, 2010 a
description of the assessment of student progress from participation in the pilot program.
Senate Bill 468 – Page
Senate Bill 468 requires a school participating in the pilot program:
To select high-risk, English-language-learning, special education and below-proficient-
reading students to participate in the program.
Assess each selected student before the student enters and after the student leaves the
pilot program to measure the student’s progress.
The appropriation of $2,000.0 contained in this bill is a recurring expense to the general fund.
Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2010 shall revert
to the general fund.
According to the PED,
The term “neuroscience-driven language development" is geared toward using multiple
senses in directing instruction. For instance, the program would use the auditory, visual
and language skills in tandem to direct instruction in literacy. These programs are
designed to leverage new neuroscience research and principles in order to increase
student literacy by helping a student’s brain to more efficiently process information. In
addition to building specific skills, these programs work with memory, attention,
processing rate and sequencing. The idea is to re-wire the brains of struggling learners to
establish new neuropathways in the brain so that students can more efficiently learn the
materials expected of them in the classroom.
While this legislation directs the pilot program to use a neuroscience-driven language
development reading intervention program, not all struggling learners may respond to this
methodology. Student needs should determine which intervention program and/or
instructional strategies are to be utilized and would need to be addressed in the RFP
Current best practices endorse the use of a continuum of programs, combined with
flexible grouping, to allow students to achieve proficiency and then move to the next
level of instruction or to exit interventions completely. This continuum of programs also
ensures that students are matched with the most appropriate intervention that is designed
to help those particular individuals make substantial gains. This is especially crucial for
students with disabilities as these students are often many years below grade level in their
reading ability. It is the responsibility of the IEP Team to determine what services the
student needs and how these services are to be provided. The pilot could identify another
type of intervention program to help address students’ needs.
The neuroscience-driven language development assumes that the ability to process
language is a prerequisite to learning content. Therefore, using a multi-sensory approach
of visual and auditory techniques to enrich language development may assist struggling
learners in achieving proficiency.
Senate Bill 468 – Page
Paragraph C directs the PED to consider the research from this pilot project for inclusion
within the School Improvement Framework. Currently the school improvement
framework does not identify a specific curriculum, but allows each school to select
scientifically based programs, of which this could be one.
The DFA states in discussing whether these training techniques provide lasting results:
The Society for Neuroscience, in an article entitled, “Brain Plasticity, Language
Processing and Reading," discusses the potential promise of neuroscience-based
techniques for assisting in reading, especially for students who are second language
learners, and students with other reading, speech or hearing difficulties. However, the
article itself highlights the need for continued research, indicating that work with English
Language Learner adults yields positive but possibly short-termed results, stating that the
improvements subjects in one study lasted “at least three months."
The DFA notes that in addition to questions about the long-term effectiveness of neuroscience-
based programs, there are additional issues that should be considered:
The Public Education Department is currently engaged in several large-scale
projects designed to assist in improving reading outcomes for students including
Reading First, Kindergarten Plus, Kindergarten-Three Plus and America’s
Choice. It is important to fully understand whether current efforts are producing
results prior to potentially diluting efforts with the addition of another project.
The PED will need to establish criteria for the program, develop and run a
Request for Proposals, manage and evaluate the program for two years. PED
reports that they will need an additional FTE in order to manage a pilot program
of this size.
A short-cycle assessment will need to be used to establish whether or not students
are making progress. Currently, New Mexico’s school districts are allowed to
select their own short cycle assessment, which means that different assessments
are in use in different schools. In addition, SB 468 does not specify which grade
levels will be participating in a pilot. This means that PED will need to select or
establish a short cycle assessment that accurately measures student reading
achievement levels pre- and post-exposure to the program at all school levels
(elementary, middle and high).
PED will need to establish and carry out a comprehensive evaluation plan that
looks at program implementation fidelity in each school to ensure that schools are
implementing the pilot program uniformly, as well as analyzing student progress.
SB 468 does not state that funding can be used for administrative or evaluative