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Should 3rd Graders be Held Back if They Can't Read to Grade Standard?

Washington Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) is co-sponsoring a Bruce Dammeier (Puyallup) proposed plan that would use reading performance tests at the third grade level to determine whether or not a student moves forward to the fourth grade.

Senate policymakers will listen to a proposal on Wednesday, Jan. 30, aimed at closing the opportunity gap and focusing on the development of reading skills from kindergarten through third grade.

The legislation sponsored by Sen. Bruce Dammeier would use reading performance on third-grade assessments to make placement and development plans. Sen. Steve Litzow is co-sponsoring the measure, which will have a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 30.

“This bill is about making sure kids enter fourth grade with the skills to be successful in school and ultimately, in life,” said Dammeier of Puyallup, vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “The third grade is a pivotal point in a students’ education and it is imperative they have a strong reading foundation before moving on to fourth grade.”  

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, third-grade students scoring below basic levels in reading would be retained in the third grade and given additional support until they are ready to succeed in the fourth grade. 

“All of the research demonstrates that the earlier our students are successful in reading and math, the better their long-term academic and career results,” said Litzow, who heads the Senate’s education committee. “The goal is to put more focus on the early years when children’s minds are rapidly developing. Once our students are exceeding state reading requirements in third grade we’re bound to see the ripple effects: a narrowing opportunity gap and improved high school graduation rates.”

Starting in the 2015-16 school year, students who did not meet state reading standards would require remediation including additional research-based instruction, reduced student-teacher ratios and supplemental tutoring. 

“Our schools are fortunate to have incredible educators,” Dammeier said. “I want to make sure teachers have the resources they need. To go from below average to above average in third grade reading could change a child’s life.”

Information provided by the office of Sen. Bruce Dammeier

Jeanne Gustafson January 25, 2013 at 08:01 PM
I have to admit, this idea gives me a little pause, because I have a child who struggles with reading, but is getting a lot of school support. He does very well, at least at grade level, in most other subjects. What do you think? If a kid is not at grade level but has been steadily improving should that be taken into account if such a rule were passed?
Kim Hilliker January 27, 2013 at 02:19 PM
@Jeanne-it is great that your child is getting a lot of school support and is improving! I believe this bill has the right intentions but is lacking in two areas- 1.Third grade is too late to intervene, it needs to be earlier(possibly later entrance into kindergarten-from my experience boys should not enter Kindergarten till age 6- or having kindergarten twice). Currently, it is very hard to ask the school to retain your child because of "social development". 2. The bill states supplemental tutoring, the schools are already underfunded and cannot and will not pay for this(they do not have it in their budgets). The bill states that they can take additional money for this program out of other budgets(like special needs and English Language Students) but those budgets are already stretched to the limits. The teachers are wanting the best for our children but are not fully given all the resources they need. Why not allow any teaching student/graduate(or anyone else that can be taught how to use a specialized program) and the state or federal government will dismiss a portion of the persons student loans for a certain amount of hours worked. Just a thought. Kim

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