Third Grade Reading Guarantee

Recently I read an article about a Cincinnati school district’s policy of holding third graders back if they can’t read by the end of the school year. Current topics about education have dual interest for me, my kids are in public school and I used to teach seventh graders. When I taught, one frustration I shared with many teachers was how kids make it all the way to seventh grade without mastering certain basic skills they should have learned in primary grades, examples including basic math skills, and reading.

There are a few reasons why I think the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a good idea:

1. Kids MUST learn to read. The further they are sent along to the next grade without being able to do so isn’t fair to them or the teachers trying to teach them. Every subject in school involves reading. If a student can’t read, they will not do well in ANY subject in school, not language arts, not math, not music.

2. Teachers would focus more on reading. I think it’s great if students are learning about their community and being a good citizen, but let’s also make sure the basics aren’t being overlooked.

3. This (hopefully) would put a little bit of pressure on parents to work with their kids at home.

Many people disagree with this policy for a few reasons as well:

1. It puts too much pressure on just a few teachers.

2. It puts too much pressure on kids. Does a third grader need the stress of mastering a certain skill in order to advance to the next grade?

3. The social damage of holding a child back may cause as much damage as just sending them along.

What if your child made it to the seventh grade and didn’t know how to read. Would you feel let down by your kids school system?

I know how I would feel.


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