SC Senate panel advances 'read to succeed' bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina Senate panel has advanced a bill aimed at boosting students' chances for success by ensuring they can read by fourth grade.

The measure sent Wednesday to the education committee seeks to end years of static achievement through a coordinated focus on reading in the primary grades. Intervention would begin in kindergarten. Students still struggling to read by the end of third grade would be retained for intensive help.

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says the bill is critical for helping more students graduate.

Education Oversight Committee director Melanie Barton says the state can re-direct money already spent.

Senators generally like the idea, but the bill faces intense debate.

Sen. Gerald Malloy of Hartsville insists on including the expansion of 4-year-old kindergarten. Republicans say that could kill the effort.