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7/28/2013 6:00:00 AM
Third-graders face a new standard
Students could be held back if they can't read at an acceptable level
Reading rules
Beginning this year, a third-grader whose reading score "falls far below the third-grade level" on Arizona standardized tests will be held back for a year. Some aspects of the Move On When Reading law:

Exceptions:

• A child who is an English learner and has had fewer than two years of English language instruction.

• A child with a disability.

Schools must:

• Identify and notify the parents of at-risk students in preschool through third grade.

Strategies to beat deficiencies:

• Assign the student to a different teacher for reading during the next school year.

• Take a summer reading class.

• Take an online reading class.

• Offer additional reading time during the repeated year.


Jonathan Reid
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON - Arizona children entering third grade this year are the first who will have to prove that they can read at an acceptable level or face being held back.

The Arizona Department of Education estimates that the law taking effect this fall will force about 1,500 children to repeat third grade next year. Another 17,000 third graders are at risk of being held back under the new rule, said Pearl Chang Esau, president of Expect More Arizona.

The state has spent millions helping schools gear up for Move On When Reading, which was approved by state lawmakers in 2010 to make sure that children are proficient at reading at the "critical milestone" of third grade.

"We see that third grade is a very important turning point in which if students are reading proficiently they are more likely to be successful," Chang Esau said.

Third grade is the last year when children are "learning how to read," said Cindy Daniels, director of K-3 Reading/Move On When Reading for the Arizona State Board of Education. In fourth grade, she said, the curriculum "flips and you're reading to learn."

Arizona is one of 15 states and the District of Columbia that has passed reading-retention measures for third graders, according to the Education Commission of the States.

The new law requires that any third-grader whose reading score "falls far below the third-grade level" on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test be held back for one year.

Schools must offer strategies to help improve the reading of those children who are held back, offering them additional reading time during the school year or online or summer classes, for example.

There were 84,000 second-graders in the state last year. The new law would apply to most of those incoming third-graders, but it exempts children who are mentally disabled and some English-language learners.

A key feature of the Arizona law is that schools are expected to use state test scores to identify children at risk of falling behind before they reach third grade.

"When I put my head on the pillow at night I don't want a third grader to be retained," said Daniels.

To help educators make the transition, the state gave $40 million a year in 2012 and 2013 to local school districts. Daniels said school officials have been "ecstatic" about the funding, which has been used on a variety of resources, from hiring reading coaches to buying more books.

Each district must submit an annual literacy plan to the state board to get the funding.

Chang Esau called the funding an "important start," but pointed to the 1,500 third graders who are still expected to be held back this year.

"That's just far too many," she said.

Chang Esau hopes that the state will continue funding for third-grade reading in the future or, better yet, increase the amount.

"We definitely need more resources if we are going to be serious about ensuring that all of our students are reading proficiently by third grade," she said.

Daniels, a former principal and reading teacher, said that while teachers are under increased pressure this year to raise literacy levels, she feels that the two-year transition period has helped them prepare.

"I really feel that we are on a very solid foundation and ready for this," she said.

It is unclear at this point what will happen when the AIMS test is phased out in 2015 for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

"At this moment the law stands as is ... but there's still dialogue that has to take place" with officials in charge of implementing the test, Daniels said.

But for now, Daniels is focused on helping teachers adopt the new law.

"Hopefully they (teachers) will feel supported by us and call me at any time," said Daniels, who has been traveling to schools around Arizona. "We would do anything possible to help them through this. I'm a party of one but I'm passionate."



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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2013
Article comment by: 20 years to late

People wonder why when asking a 14 yr old a question then all that comes back is a blank stare and open mouth.

Our kids have been unchallenged to meet educational goals and requirements far to long.

Stop creating Idiots......Make all children responsible to LEARN what is needed to live out in public.

I say test, test ,and test again. Those who CANT reach the goals are the one needing the attention. Givng everyone a free pass on personal responsibility at an early age leads to the Society we are seeing develop in front of us today.

Check out 8th grade testing from 100 yrs ago. Im well educated holding more then one college degree. I took one look at the exams from the 1800's and realised ......I got ripped off during school years. I failed miserably. I hardly think only a few college grads today could do any better.

We create lazy, uneducated, immoral people. They are not born that way.



Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

Moog...a brand of suspension part. Also the last name of the developer of synthesizers and well as the company he started. Next....

Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013
Article comment by: Michael Starks

one of the words were moog. or if you ask them i spelt that wrong but i can get more just give me time to find the paper.

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

@ Kingman Parent

I don't think the new law is supposed to be a punishment. It is put in place to make sure that students have learned to read well enough to be ready for the rigors of reading to learn that will be expected of them in the upper elementary grades through high school. It is actually more unfair to put a child ahead before they have the skills needed to be successful.

I noticed that the article stated that this change applies to students who "fall far below" on the AIMS. This is the lowest bracket of students. Students who "nearly meet" will still be able to be promoted.

When students are unable to read well enough to comprehend their text books they have a difficult time passing their courses and become drop out risks in high school.

Rather than making excuses for their difficulties in reading and passing the students along, the new law gives them the extra time and the additional help and resources, to ensure they read at a high enough level to continue on.


Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Parent

Is anyone aware that this specific group of third graders are the same group of kids that were only allowed a half day Kindegarten classes? Not to mention they have taken away their art classes and significantly cut back on their P.E. Also, if your child did not meet the requirements in second grade they were tutored and tested every week to the point that they disliked going to school before they even make it to the third grade. At this point it feels like they are drilling these kids and taking all the fun classes that allow them to express themselves. This group of kids have been through a lot more changes than most of the other classes. It is also unfair that they wont even consider how well they do in class in reading or the other subjects. Lets face it some children just don't test well. I think that this is completely unfair to the children, especially this grade that has already been through so much.

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: High School Parent

When my son was in 3rd grade, he was not the best reader. His 3rd grade teacher wanted to hold him back and repeat the 3rd grade until he read as well as the other students in his class. I fought very hard to not let him be held back. When he went into 4th grade, he was able to read everything he was suppose to and do very well. Seems funny to me that schools are so willing to hold the kids back when they don't need to. Kids all learn at their own pace and my son is a prime example of that. He is now going into High School without any problems with his school work. I've seen kids that have been held back and it crushes their self esteem, makes them feel like they aren't as smart as their friends.

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Queen Of Everything

"I seen them send words home that were not in the dictionary, that is unacceptable. We need to something about that and not so much about reading. Writing and proper English is what we should focus most on. Not made up words that are no where in the universe. That really grinds my gears. Anyone have info on the school board so I can get a hold of them. Need to bring this point up to them."

Would you mind telling us what words these might be? I'm curious.

Thanks


Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

The fact they even have to make these type rules is what really bothers me. Many years ago in rural OH, we had remedial reading in elementary school. Teachers identified those children who needed it and I believe a test of some sort was given to verify. Remedial reading was held a few days per week with a traveling teacher IIRC. I knew a few of the kids who went, and though I don't think they ever became really proficient I know they improved. I can only remember 2 students who were ever held back in my (admittedly small) school. There was never a standard that had to be met, it was based on the knowledge and experience of our dedicated teachers.

As to the made up words that were mentioned...I'd need more than anecdotal evidence of that.


Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Highly Amused

Good news for education! I'm glad this has been enacted because there are too many kids being passed on simply because of their age, and not wanting them to 'feel bad' because kids their age have moved on without them.

No Child Left Behind was the WORST thing to ever happen to our children's education!


Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Michael Starks

This i can understand being acceptable. The only thing is that the state of Arizona is making it impossible for them to succeed at anything. When children in the second grade have to spell words that they make up but cant it drops their grade, this is where it gets ridiculous. I seen them send words home that were not in the dictionary, that is unacceptable. We need to something about that and not so much about reading. Writing and proper English is what we should focus most on. Not made up words that are no where in the universe. That really grinds my gears. Anyone have info on the school board so I can get a hold of them. Need to bring this point up to them.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: gun owner 000

So.....I guess this means we're going to have a lot of 30-year-old, third graders in the Kingman School District?



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