SC 3rd graders not meeting reading requirements could be held back

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – A fresh bunch of third graders returned to Horry County schools Wednesday morning, and educators say this may be their most important year yet.

Starting this year, all schools in the Palmetto State are required to hold back third graders who do not prove their reading abilities during standardized testing.

“When they get to third grade, the content becomes critically important,” said Executive Director of Elementary Education in Horry County, Mark Porter. “So at that time, they then start reading to learn.”

According to the Department of Education, students should be able to read on their own and understand a variety of text at the end of third grade. That means they can read and understand words, sentences, and paragraphs without help. The standard is for third graders to be self-directed critical thinkers and readers.

Last year, only 44 percent of state third graders met or exceeded reading standards on the SC READY assessment. But only some of the other 56 percent will be held back.

“We’re looking at that lowest level on SC READY,” Porter said. “A level one; I mean, that is the bottom of the bottom,” he explained.

Some students can qualify for exemptions; others can move on with the help of camp where kids will work on comprehension and will then be reassessed.

“There is a reading assessment that we will give at the end of the summer reading camp that will determine whether or not they’ve reached a reading proficiency level strong enough that they can then be promoted to fourth grade,” Porter said.

But camp or no camp, educators say reading should be practiced every day.

“Reading is like everything else,” Porter states. “I mean, the more your child reads, the more fluent your child is going to become.”

Parents, a letter explaining the retention component will be sent home to you early this year.

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.

You can find a Read to Succeed F.A.Q. answered by the State Department of Education here.