Imagine trying to navigate the challenging waters of fourth, fifth and sixth grade science, social studies, and English unable to read. Unfortunately, this is the case for too many Palmetto State children, who are “socially promoted” based on seat time alone rather than proficiency. So how do we help ensure students have this fundamental tool for academic success? New research from Arizona supports one of our key initiatives that answers this question.
The Grand Canyon State has long been on the cutting edge of education transformation, and we could learn much from them. One innovative policy that Arizona recently implemented is called Move On When Reading. This is simply a benchmark requirement mandating that any third grade student without sufficient reading competency be prevented from advancing to the next grade until she is ready. While this change was met with the inevitable opposition, the results speak for themselves. When the law was passed, there were an estimated 4,300 third graders who would be retained based on the law.
However, since its passage, the Move on When Reading mandate has caused school systems to focus on helping their students achieve the necessary competency through additional support like tutoring and summer school. Now it is estimated that the number of students likely to be held back is well under 750! This is a truly impressive educational triumph, and it came during a time when school budgets were decreasing. With our new Read to Succeed law, struggling young South Carolina students should finally get the help they need as well. Hopefully we will soon fill this space with Arizona-like results.