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Dr. Joanne Meier
Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.
Third grade again?
If you've been following the news, you may have read about proposed state legislation (in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee) that would make students repeat third grade if they can't pass the state reading exams.
Our Rocket Blast carried the story Bills Prod Schools to Hold Back Third-Graders from the Wall Street Journal. Several reports, including Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, summarize recent research on reading proficiency and subsequent high-school dropout this way:
- One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
- The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
- Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor.
- The rate was highest for poor Black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively — or about eight times the rate for all proficient readers.
Third Grade Again: The Trouble With Holding Students Back from The Atlantic includes this assessment from educational psychologist David Berliner:
"It seems like legislators are absolutely ignorant of the research, and the research is amazingly consistent that holding kids back is detrimental," Berliner said. "Everybody supports the idea that if a student isn't reading well in third grade that it's a signal that the child needs help. If you hold them back, you're going to spend roughly another $10,000 per child for an extra year of schooling. If you spread out that $10,000 over the fourth and fifth grades for extra tutoring, in the long run you're going to get a better outcome."
What's your opinion? Do you think a retention policy based on third-grade reading results is a good idea? Has your child been retained? Have you ever retained a child? I'd love to hear your opinion.