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New Literacy Law-Too Much and Too Late?
In the continuing effort to get our children reading, fourteen states have enacted a policy requiring third-graders who do not meet a reading standard to attend summer school and/or be held back. Summer school is costly and studies show that students held back often drop out of school. Is there a solution? This appears to be a complicated issue for many.
Although some say that summer school might improve student literacy, many wonder where the extra funds will come from. In North Carolina, districts could not rely on state funds to cover the extra expenditure. Non-profit foundations were needed to supplement the summer schools costs.
Most educators feel that checking student reading proficiency in third grade and then “punishing” a student, who is not up to par with summer school or the threat of being left back, is not only unfair but also deals with a serious issue too late in the educational process.
Educational protocol has always been that a 6-years-old should begin to learn to read. Third grade is the turning point. It is when people move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. Testing at this point puts everyone involved at a disadvantage.
Since 2002, Florida has required reading assessments starting in kindergarten. Those students who are shown to already be falling behind are offered extra support. This policy increased fourth grade literacy from 27% to 39%.
It is known that babies who are read to will generally learn to read without a problem. So, what is going on in our school systems? Have budget cuts, which caused larger class sizes, helped children to fall through the cracks? Are parents working too hard and don’t have time for their children? Are people too busy with their smart phones to help their children get smart? Why has literacy become a greater challenge with every passing year?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.