Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have changed the law of third-grade reading standards.
House Bill 2625 would have allowed a committee to decide which third-graders that failed a reading test would be promoted to fourth grade.
In a release, Fallin said, "From kindergarten to third grade, children learn to read. Beginning in the fourth grade they 'read to learn.' Without children literacy skills, children in the fourth grade fall further and further behind.
The governor said promoting children to fourth grade without the basic tools they need to succeed would be "immoral."
"We must ensure our children have basic proficiency in reading before the fourth grade," she said.
Under the current law, every third-grade child is required to take a standardized reading test. This year 7,970 students, or about 16 percent of Oklahoma third graders, scored "unsatisfactory" on the test, meaning the child is reading at about a first grade or below level.
Tulsa Superintendent of Schools Keith Ballard said he was greatly disappointed in the governor's action.
"The fact that a disproportionate number of the state's third-graders who scored 'unsatisfactory' on Oklahoma's reading test are special education students and were not provided with an appropriate modification is cruel," he said in a news release.
The Parent Legislative Action Committee of Central Oklahoma delivered a petition to the governor on Monday with more than 2,000 signatures, urging her to sign the measure.
"Our teachers are using research-based methods to provide extra help to students reading behind grade level during school and over the summer," Ballard said.
"The state does not know best."