Under the Dome

State education board looks at new reading requirement

The State Board of Education is set to approve a new policy Thursday that's in line with the law requiring most 3rd graders to read at grade level before they're promoted. The policy still needs to jump the state regulatory hump of the Rules Review Commission, so it will be about six months before it's on the books.

The rule is supposed to be in place for the next school year.

Last year, about 31 percent of 3rd graders didn't' pass the end of grade reading test. But no one expects a third of all 3rd graders to be held back a grade.

According to a guidebook explaining how it'll all work, kids get to take the test a second time. The law includes ways for children to be promoted even if they fail the reading test, called "good cause" exemptions.

Kids who fail the test twice and don't qualify for an exemption will be directed to summer school. Kids tagged for summer school whose parents don't enroll them will repeat 3rd grade. (The summer schools are called Summer Reading Camps, maybe because summer camp sounds better than summer school.) At the end of 'camp,' the kids will take an alternative test or complete a reading portfolio. Passing gets them to 4th grade. Failing means repeating 3rd. Students who are held back a grade but get up to speed with their reading by Nov. 1 can be promoted.
--Lynn Bonner

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