Bar Lowered for 3rd Graders Who Can’t Read

Dec 14, 2015

The Iowa Board of Education today agreed to ease up on a summer school mandate for students who don’t yet read at grade level.

It’s part of a new state law that will affect thousands of 3rd graders starting after the 2016-2017 school year. 

Some Republican lawmakers sought to hold back all 3rd graders not reading at grade level.  In a compromise with Democrats, the law mandates intensive summer instruction instead.  

Phil Wise with the Iowa Department of Education warns students will be held back if they don’t meet the summertime requirements.

"They are retained," Wise says.  "That’s in the statute."

The Department proposed that those 3rd grade students would be promoted to 4th grade only if they complete a summer program with 90% attendance for 75 hours of instruction.    

But school officials fought back on that.

"School people believed that the attendance requirement and the minimum hours were difficult to achieve," Wise says.

The Board agreed to scale back the requirement to 85% attendance for 70 hours of instruction.

Schools will have to continue the intensive instruction for students who meet those requirements but are still behind on reading when they’re moved on to 4th grade.

School officials say staffing the program will be tough.  DOE officials say they have asked the legislature for money to help schools pay for the program.

Officials estimate that as many as 9,000 students would be affected at a cost of as much as 10 million dollars.