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"Read to Succeed": Destined to Fail

on Tue, 07/16/2013 - 17:17

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Read to Succeed: Destined to Fail

Legislators are excited about two bills (S.516 & H3994) that would automatically retain 3rd grade students who fail their standardized reading test.

Children are terrified of being left back.  Research shows they’d prefer to wet their pants in front of the class.  The only things they fear more are going blind and losing a parent.

Research consistently shows that retained students have a dramatically higher risk of dropping out than similar students who stay with peers.  That outcome carries a lifetime cost. 

Any academic benefit from retention disappears after three years. 

 

Please call (click link, then click name for contact info)

or cut and paste addresses into bcc line of an email:

Gmail (separated by commas)

RobertBrown@schouse.gov, dougbrannon@schouse.gov, rayefelder@schouse.gov, JohnKing@schouse.gov, ralphnorman@schouse.gov, joshuaputnam@schouse.gov, tommystringer@schouse.gov, markwillis@schouse.gov, billtaylor@schouse.gov, LesterBranham@schouse.gov, donnahicks@schouse.gov, philowens@schouse.gov, joedaning@schouse.gov, JerryGovan@schouse.gov, HaroldMitchell@schouse.gov, andypatrick@schouse.gov, samuelrivers@schouse.gov, donwells@schouse.gov

Outlook (separated by semicolons)

RobertBrown@schouse.gov; dougbrannon@schouse.gov; rayefelder@schouse.gov; JohnKing@schouse.gov; ralphnorman@schouse.gov; joshuaputnam@schouse.gov; tommystringer@schouse.gov; markwillis@schouse.gov; billtaylor@schouse.gov; LesterBranham@schouse.gov; donnahicks@schouse.gov; philowens@schouse.gov; joedaning@schouse.go; JerryGovan@schouse.gov; HaroldMitchell@schouse.gov; andypatrick@schouse.gov; samuelrivers@schouse.gov; donwells@schouse.gov

Retention decisions are currently made by a team of parents, teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, and school psychologists. 

They struggle together to make the best decision for the child.

These bills kick all of those people out of the room and hand the decision to a bubble test.

 

The bills talk about all kinds of wonderful reading interventions.  Few are funded at all.  None are funded fully.

One of those interventions involvesmandatory coursework for teachers…at their own expense (up to $4800).

 

The cruel absurdity of this bill is justified by the alleged success of a similar initiative in Florida. 

The role of mandatory retention in any such success is very much in doubt.

About a decade ago, Florida began doing 3 things:

  • Funding intensive reading interventionsand boosting overall school funding by 22%
  • Capping K-3 class sizesat 18 students (25 for other grades)
  • Holding back 3rd graderswho fail the state reading test

Florida spent $750 Million on interventions initially and$130 Million this year: reading coaches, remedial instruction, camps for every struggling reader, and paid, tuition-free professional development for teachers.

When all of that is being provided in every school in South Carolina, maybe it will be time to restart this conversation.

The House budget proposal for next year would leave SC school spending 22% BELOW what our funding formula deems “minimally adequate.”

 

“Read to Succeed” is a cheap, reckless, knock-off of the Florida model that would hurt children.

SC Senate Bill 516 (“Read to Succeed Act”) claims to copy Florida’s Reading Initiative.  Florida automatically retained 3rd grade students with low reading scores, but paid for extensive interventions before, during, and after that step.

You could have an interesting debate about that idea, but it would be irrelevant: South Carolina's version doesn't mandate or pay for much of anything except retention. 

 

EdFirstSC raised concerns about the bill immediately.  We were out in front opposing it as soon as it became clear that it would offer no significant interventions for struggling readers and do lasting harm to kids.

State Supt.-for-Now Mick Zais had been pulling the strings on this bill while letting others carry it forward.  He later turned against it.

 

His primary complaint?  The bill ended up offering too much.  He went so far as to call it "a Christmas tree".  He wanted it to come back this year as a straight retention bill with literally NO interventions attached.

 

Why Would We Stop a Bill with a Catchy Name Like “Read to Succeed”?

 “Florida Is as Florida Does, Sir”

About a decade ago, Florida began doing 3 things:

  • Funding intensive reading interventions and boosting overall school funding by 22%
  • Capping K-3 class sizes at 18 students (25 for other grades)
  • Holding back 3rd graders who fail the state reading test

Reading scores improved.

Guess which one South Carolina wants to do first? (Hint: It’s not “All of the above”) 

They want to retain 3-5 times as many kids as we do now.

Retention research is very consistent: academic gains fade after 3 years, and dropout rates are dramatically higher.  One study found that children rank the prospect of retention as more stressful than wetting their pants in front of the class.  The only events ranked more stressful were going blind and losing a parent.

The director of Florida’s Reading Initiative recently stated: “Retention alone will not work.”

“Show Me the Money!”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said:

We probably would have had a third of our kids stay back had we done nothing.  But we required a different approach. We put reading coaches in every school to teach teachers how to teach reading... We launched the universal pre-K efforts.

Florida spent $750 Million to implement their program and $130 million this year to maintain it.  They paid for reading coaches, remedial instruction, summer reading camps for every struggling reader, and paid, tuition-free professional development for teachers.

The sponsors of South Carolina's Read to Succeed (S. 516) want to spend $2 million.

They would require teachers to pay for up to $4800 worth of new coursework out-of-pocket.

 

Please call (click link, then click name for contact info)

or cut and paste addresses into bcc line of an email:

Gmail (separated by commas)

RobertBrown@schouse.gov, dougbrannon@schouse.gov, rayefelder@schouse.gov, JohnKing@schouse.gov, ralphnorman@schouse.gov, joshuaputnam@schouse.gov, tommystringer@schouse.gov, markwillis@schouse.gov, billtaylor@schouse.gov, LesterBranham@schouse.gov, donnahicks@schouse.gov, philowens@schouse.gov, joedaning@schouse.gov, JerryGovan@schouse.gov, HaroldMitchell@schouse.gov, andypatrick@schouse.gov, samuelrivers@schouse.gov, donwells@schouse.gov

Outlook (separated by semicolons)

RobertBrown@schouse.gov; dougbrannon@schouse.gov; rayefelder@schouse.gov; JohnKing@schouse.gov; ralphnorman@schouse.gov; joshuaputnam@schouse.gov; tommystringer@schouse.gov; markwillis@schouse.gov; billtaylor@schouse.gov; LesterBranham@schouse.gov; donnahicks@schouse.gov; philowens@schouse.gov; joedaning@schouse.go; JerryGovan@schouse.gov; HaroldMitchell@schouse.gov; andypatrick@schouse.gov; samuelrivers@schouse.gov; donwells@schouse.gov

Please join EdFirstSC at no cost if you have not done so. 

Please use the Donate button at the right to keep our organization strong.

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