Ed Week on 3rd Grade Retention

March 27, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Ed Week on the 3rd grade retention debate, including quotes from my Foundation for Excellence in Education colleague Jaryn Emhof and Marcus Winters on his forthcoming research on persistence of the retention effect. I am very proud of our lawmakers in Arizona and especially Governor Brewer and Senator Crandall for taking action to close loopholes in the Arizona law.

Arizona has a sad history of punting on tough reforms, having dummied down the state AIMS test by dropping the cut scores and having delayed the enactment of using the AIMS test as a high school exit exam several times. The 3rd grade retention law that passed in 2010 put the new standard in place for incoming kindergarteners the following year, giving an ease-in adjustment period for the districts. Last year at the Arizona School Boards Association conference, an Arizona Superintendent confided in me that “we’ve found the loophole in the retention law, and we are getting ready to use it.”

Fortunately, Governor Brewer’s team found the loophole as well, and are taking action to close it. This law is going to be a tremendous test of character for the Arizona education community of the sort we have failed in the past. Reading intervention should have the top priority for every dime of federal funding received for K-3 students. All of the Title programs can be used to support early reading intervention, remediation, and professional development. So long as we are really going to see the policy through, I support Governor Brewer’s call for additional state resources without reservation.

The only time Arizona officeholders garner attention seems to be when they do something controversial or downright nutty. Kudos for getting some things right!

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