Are Third Grade Reading Guarantee the solution to low reading scores?
Third Grade Reading Guarantees have recently been legislated in as many as 13 states in an effort to improve students? readiness to ?read to learn? in grades 4-12. Spurred on with the statistic that 74% of students who are poor readers in third grade?continue to struggle in ninth grade?(Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996), policy makers are leading the charge to eliminate the problem.
But, is it the solution?
One report published by the Education Commission of the States communicated that some studies have found that less than half of students who have repeated a grade and attended summer school meet the benchmark standards for promotion. For most struggling students neither retention nor promotion is the answer.
So what is the solution to the nation?s third grade reading slump?
Fortunately, the emphasis on third grade reading proficiency has increased the focus on instruction and intervention in grades pre-K through 2nd. Research has proven that quality classroom instruction in these grade levels is a powerful indicator of whether a student will experience difficulties in learning to read or not (Scanlon & Vellutino, 1996; Snow & Juel, 2005). Furthermore, primary grade teachers have the potential to prevent reading failure with?effective instruction?(Moats, 1994; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Taylor, Pearson, Clark &Walpole, 1999). In fact, it is now widely acknowledged that many primary grade students who have been identified for Special Education services would not have been identified if general classroom instruction had been explicit, systematic, targeted, and responsive (Clay, 1987; Denton & Mathes, 2003; Lyon, Fletcher, Fuchs, & Chhabra, 2006; Scanlon, Vellutino, Small, Fanuele & Sweeny, 2005; Snow, et al., 1998).
If K-3rd grade teachers are provided with the support they need for effective implementation of evidence-based strategies as well as customized intervention settings and curricula for struggling readers then the conversation concerning third grade retention will change drastically. For the 13 states where Third Grade Reading Guarantees have already been commissioned the best thing you can do is improve instruction.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Articles on Effective Reading Instruction: