SCS outlines proposal to hold back 2nd graders who aren’t proficient readers

SCS outlines proposal to hold back 2nd graders who aren’t proficient readers

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools is giving more details about a proposal to hold back second-grade students who can’t read.

The plan would impact hundreds if not thousands of parents and students. Word of the plan was first released last week.

SCS policy could hold back more 2nd graders

“If we don’t do something to put a stake in the ground to address the literacy gap in our kids at a certain age, we will continue to have high levels of remedial courses taken by graduates in college and we’ll continue to have kids that are not able to meet the demand of rigorous coursework,” said Antonio Burt, SCS chief academic officer.

As SCS tightens its standards, the district is considering a new approach to ensure higher literacy rates in third grade and beyond. Burt says that starts with accountability.

Under this new proposal, second graders will not be allowed to continue to third grade based on classroom scores alone. Standardized testing and mandated cutoff scores will also play a role.

“Every quarter is a review of how the students are performing,” said Burd.

He adds that a research dashboard will allow district officials to keep track of second-grade performance as a whole. By Feb. 1, low-performing students will be identified -- along with their parents -- and those students will be subject to special interventions, including summer school.

The lower-performing students will get 45 days into the new school year to reach a third-grade reading level. If they can’t, they are held back.

“What we propose is to roll it out in an implementation year next year to the schools where schools will know all of the criteria,” said Burt. “They’ll know the cutoff scores, we’ll communicate with parents so they have an idea of how their kid is performing."

Roughly a fourth of SCS third graders can actually read at a third-grade level. Burt says district statistics show for students who struggle, the literacy gap begins at Christmas of the first-grade year -- earlier than the national average. That gap widens throughout second grade.

This proposed policy still needs approval by the school board.

The district says it will hold workshops, community meetings and town halls with parents regarding the plan as it moves further along in that process.

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