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The Utah Senate on Wednesday passed SB194, which makes changes to the state's reading improvement program for children in grades K-3.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate on Wednesday passed SB194, which raises the bar for reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, said SB194 would set the state standard of children reading on or above grade level by the end of grade 3 at 60 percent.

"I say we shouldn't be happy untill we get to 90 percent," Millner said during earlier floor debate.

Achieving reading proficiency at the end of the third grade is a key factor in later educational success, she said.

A recent report by the Education Commission of the States said children who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school, Millner said.

But there is reason for hope, she said.

Students who undergo reading interventions are seven times more likely to achieve proficiency, Millner said in earlier debate.

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"We know intervention works. We need to do something to help that," Millner said.

To that end, the bill requires the Utah State Board of Education to provide support to a school district or charter school that fails to meet its early literacy goals.

SB194 also calls on local school boards and charter boards to set proficiency goals, determine strategies to reach their goals and to report their results.

The Senate voted 27-0 to approve the bill on its third reading. The amended bill moves to the House for further consideration.