AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Passing the third grade is becoming a lot tougher for students in South Carolina.
Starting in August, if third graders don’t meet state reading requirements they’ll be held back.
Research shows that third grade is a pivotal year for students, because prior to that they are learning to read.
While after that, they are reading to learn.
However parents shouldn’t worry, because there are programs in place to ensure students who are struggling get the support they need to move to the next grade level.
For kids to succeed in the classroom, they need to know how to read.
“Literacy is the hottest topic right now in Aiken County,” said Lead for ‘Read to Succeed’ and Federal Programs Educator Kim Livingston said. “It is our focus, all the way around, for all of our schools.”
For years, Aiken County has aggressively worked to bring students up to the reading level they should be at, through programs including a summer reading camp.
“The idea is to keep kids constantly immersed in reading and writing this summer,” said Warrenville Summer Reading Camp Lead Teacher Beth Bartlett.
“Through this program we are really putting a lens on literacy and looking at each one of our students, looking closely at the data and making sure the kids are getting what they need.” Livingston told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Starting this year however, all schools in the Palmetto State are required to hold back third graders that don’t prove their reading abilities on the S.C. READY assessment at the end of the year.
“By the end of third grade if they are not reading on grade level, research shows that it’s going to be really hard for them to catch up.” Bartlett said.
Still, there are exceptions to the new rule.
“We have 7 good exemptions that a child can fall under, if they have intensive reading instruction and possibly had retention.” Livingston said. “Maybe they are not English-speaking as their first language.”
Aiken County has checkpoints in place, in the form of assessments, that help them weed out the students who need help so it’s not a surprise at the end of the year.
If a student does meet the Good Cause Exemption they are still required to receive instructional support.
What is a good cause exemption?
Read to Succeed legislation provides seven considerations for students who may be exempt from
mandatory retention and promoted to fourth grade. Good cause exemptions include students:
- with limited English proficiency and less than two years of instruction in English as a Second Language (ESOL) program.
- with disabilities whose IEP indicates the use of alternative assessments or alternative reading interventions.
- with disabilities whose IEP or Section 504 Plan reflects that the student has received intensive remediation in reading for more than two years but still does not substantially demonstrate reading proficiency.
- who demonstrate third grade reading proficiency on an alternative assessment approved by the SBE and which teachers may administer following the administration of the state assessment of reading.
- who have received two years of reading intervention and were previously retained.
- who through reading portfolio documentation demonstrate mastery of the state standards in reading equal to at least one level above the lowest achievement level on the state reading assessment.
- who successfully participate in a Read to Succeed summer reading camp at the conclusion of the third grade year and demonstrate through either a reading portfolio or through a norm-referenced alternative assessment, that their mastery of the state standards in reading is equal to at least one level above the lowest level on the state reading assessment.
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