State Prepares for Summer School for Thousands of Third Graders

Feb 15, 2016

Some third graders who can’t read at grade level would get help this summer under a pilot project the Branstad administration announced today.  

The project will help prepare the state for next year, when struggling students will attend summer school, or be required to repeat third grade.    

It’s part of a compromise struck in 2012.     Some GOP lawmakers wanted to keep back all third graders  not reading at grade level.     The compromise instead requires summer school if a student wants to advance to fourth grade.  

Governor Branstad says the law will affect thousands of students.

“Nearly 25 percent of third graders did not read proficiently in 2014-15 on state tests,” Branstad says.

This summer, the voluntary classes will reach about 1800 students, and will help schools test out best methods for mandatory classes the following summer.   

Governor Branstad says some programs already in place are better than others.

“A 2015 study of districts conducted by the Regents universities found 65 percent had summer reading programs and quality was inconsistent,” Branstad says.

The Iowa Reading Research Center at the University of Iowa will direct the pilot project.

This summer’s program will cost about $2 million.     Private funds will pick up most of that.   Expanding to mandatory summer school will cost about $9 million a year.  

Governor Branstad says he wait until the 2017 legislative session to ask for the larger amount.