ATHENS, Ala. - Limestone County Schools said it is challenging students to master fundamental skills during kindergarten, first and second grades in new ways.

The new grade promotion requirements will give teachers a glimpse at problem areas for some students.

"We felt like our standards and promotion policies were a little too loose. We wanted to tighten those up so that students were following the Alabama common core standard," explained Julia Wall Elementary Curriculum Coordinator with Limestone County Schools. "We were targeting priority standards in kindergarten, first and second grade in both ELA and math."

School system officials said they hope the new requirements make for easier grade level transitions.

"We really wanted to target letters and sounds and the proficiency of reading CVC words. Number sense in math. First grade the same, high-frequency words, phonics, phonemic awareness and mathematics, number sense and that ability for those students to know and be able to do the math standards," added Wall.

If the district determines a student is performing poorly, leaders said they will take several steps to understand why that`s the case.

They said retention is not the top priority.

"We'll look at those universal screeners and see where those students are. We look at students that are below the 25th percentile," she said. "We look at those students strengths and weaknesses and then we target those skills based on what those screeners show."

From there individual plans of action will then be developed for students in an effort to get them on the right track.

"The goal is promotion and proficiency, not retention."

The school system says the best thing parents can do to ensure their students are prepared is to continue education outside the classroom, whether by reading aloud to them or enrolling them in camps.

Limestone County Schools said the new changes will go into effect August 1st.