Friday, March 23, 2012

Schools Get Tough With Third-Graders: Read Or Flunk

This is good to see.  Personally, I think there should be a national law that says no 3rd grader can progress to 4th grade unless they are reading at a basic level.  Yes, I'm aware that more than HALF of black and Latino (and 23% of white) 4th graders are reading below basic, but I think it is a  high crime to fail to teach all of these children to read properly and promote them along, lying to them and their parents, year after year – until they're completely screwed, drop out, and face ruined, broken lives…

There's little dispute among educators that kids are not reading as well as they should be, but there's endless debate over what to do about it. Now, a growing number of states are taking a hard-line approach through mandatory retentions — meaning third-graders who can't read at grade level will automatically get held back.

To those pushing the idea, it's equal doses of tough and love: You are not doing kids any favors, they say, by waiving them on to fourth grade if they aren't up to snuff on their reading.

"It's essentially just lying to the kid to say that, 'You are there,'" says Tim Taylor, president of Colorado Succeeds, which is pushing the mandatory-retention approach in that state. "I think what we need to do is to draw a line in the sand and have the fortitude to step up and say this is the right thing for kids."

Educators like to say third grade is when kids move from learning to read, to reading to learn. So if they don't yet have basic reading skills, they need to stay back.

"It's a gift of time," Taylor says. "It is giving the kids the ability to get to the reading levels that they need so that they can be successful moving through their school career."

Similar bills are being considered in New Mexico, Iowa and Tennessee; and have recently passed in Oklahoma, Arizona and Indiana. Advocates of the bills point to Florida, where schools started mandatory retentions 10 years ago. There, reading scores for kids who repeated third grade went from way below average to well above average.


Schools Get Tough With Third-Graders: Read Or Flunk

NPR, March 05, 2012

by Tovia Smith

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