(a) Legislative findings. -– The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) Children entering early childhood education programs have significant differences in their cognitive development, mastery of the early basic skills and readiness for instruction in a formal setting;
(2) Mastery of the basic skills of reading, mathematics and English language arts is the foundation for all further learning and, therefore, providing the instruction necessary for each child to attain mastery in these basic skills must be the priority for early childhood education programs;
(3) Deficiencies in the basic skills of reading, mathematics and English language arts that persist in children beyond the early childhood years become more difficult to overcome as they retard further progress in building the basics and lead to significant gaps in the basic knowledge needed to comprehend more advanced content in other subject areas; and
(4) Intensive instruction, early detection and intervention to correct student deficiencies in the basic skills of reading, mathematics and English language arts during early childhood education are more effective strategies for improving student performance than the alternatives such as grade level retention, social promotion and referral for special services and can lessen the prevalence of low basic skills as a contributing factor in student truancy, delinquency and dropout rates.
(b) Intent and purpose. -- The intent and purpose of this section is to establish the priority for early childhood education to provide intensive instruction in the basic skills of reading, mathematics and English language arts, along with early detection and intervention strategies to correct student deficiencies, to address the findings of this section.
(c) State board rule. -- On or before July 1, 2004, the state board shall adopt rules to effectuate the intent and purpose of this section, including, but not limited to, provisions that address the following:
(1) Reading, mathematics and English language arts are the only subjects that are required to be taught daily in kindergarten through grade two early childhood education programs;
(2) Instruction in other subject matter in kindergarten through grade two shall be oriented to reinforce instruction in reading, mathematics and English language arts;
(3) Strategies for the early detection and intervention to correct student deficiencies in reading, mathematics and English language arts shall be employed throughout the instructional term in each of the early childhood grades to help students achieve mastery in these subjects, including allowing flexibility in student schedules to provide additional time and instruction for students who are below mastery in these subjects in grades three and four;
(4) Accountability for student performance on the statewide assessment of student performance in the early childhood grades shall only include the basic skills of reading, mathematics and English language arts; and
(5) Any other provisions considered necessary by the state board to achieve the intent and purpose of this section.