Nevada Imposes Literacy by Third Grade

Nevada GoThinkstockPhotos-474969416vernor Brian Sandoval has signed the Read by Three Act (SB 391) designed to improve early literacy and student achievement. The law includes early identification and parental notification of reading deficiencies, intensive reading interventions for students in need of additional support and, as a last resort, retention at the end of third grade with more intensive interventions.

The law also requires progress monitoring plans for struggling readers, which prescribe the interventions that their schools will provide, learning support and professional development, and that school districts and charter schools report the number of students retained each year in third grade.

World-renowned literacy expert and activist Professor Stephen Krashen doubts the law will achieve its stated goals; “If Governor Sandoval and the Nevada legislature are serious about improving reading in Nevada, they should stop worrying about how well children read at grade three and invest more in libraries and librarians. Children (and adults) can improve in reading at any age, and the way it happens is through reading interesting and comprehensible books and other reading material. But for this to happen, readers need to have access to reading material. Those living in poverty do not: They have fewer books in their homes, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods. For children of poverty, the only source of reading material is the library, and study after study has shown that higher library quality is related to better reading achievement.”

On the other hand, Patricia Levesque, CEO for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a lobbying group founded by former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, backs the law, “Nevada is taking a critical step to ensure every student has basic reading skills by the end of the third grade and struggling students have the resources they need to become proficient readers, graduate high school and achieve future success.”

But, Krashen also points out a fundamental flaw in the Act, “According to the Nevada Read by Three Act, parents will be notified each year, kindergarten through third grade, if their child is not reading on grade level. The definition of grade level is the 50th percentile. This means that half the children in Nevada will be considered deficient in reading, no matter how well everybody reads. Members of the Nevada legislature and the Governor need some remediation in basic math.”

#literacy #reading #publicschools


  1. If Nevada wants to psychologically shame beginning readers the state will enact this law. Foundation for Excellence in Education, the same for-profit-charter school group with connections to A.L.E.C. , is in the business of privatizing public schools by comparing scores from struggling readers of their timed, high stakes standardized tests. FEE wants you to forget standardized tests are designed to trick and confuse struggling readers with the use of distractor answers in multiple choice formats. Never mind that at-risk children are more likely to suffer mental illness, food insecurity, shelter insecurity, physical and psycho-emotional abuse. Never mind that one in five readers suffers from dyslexia or other physiological conditions that would lead to difficulty in taking a timed high stakes test. FEE is pushing for factory-based-learning-experience through data-driven-analysis and data-driven assessments and standardized tests designed to fail children. Data driven, selected response assessments are based on behavioral analysis. How many selected response questions can a child correctly answer? The outcome of this number has immense consequences. Thus, the State of Nevada will ensure that schools, administrators and teachers will structure curriculum and learning experience around tests. Heterogeneous classroom groups of children will not experience a curriculum centered upon mind expansion but a curriculum centered upon test taking. Children will be conditioned to answer selected response questions utilizing rewards and punishments. When the big standardized testing date comes around in the Spring, if children do not answer correctly enough questions, schools, principals and teachers will be punished. These are behaviorist learning principals. This is operant conditioning.

    From a child development standpoint, high stakes standardized tests come at a steep cost.

    I quote Jane Healy, Ph.D: “Driving the cold spikes of inappropriate pressure into the malleable heart of a child’s learning may seriously distort the unfolding of both intellect and motivation. This self-serving intellectual assault, increasingly condemned by teachers who see it’s warped product,…In a society that reveres the speed with which a product can be extruded from the system, that has become impatient with the essential process of childhood, that measures children’s mental growth like steak on a butchers scales, and that deifies test scores instead of taking the time to respect developmental needs, EVERY CHILD IS POTENTIALLY IN JEOPARDY.”

    Go ahead Nevada, privatize your public schools. Stigmatize your children.

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