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February 14, 2014

Second-grader struggles with reading

NORMAN — Q: My second-grader hates to read and, in fact, she doesn’t read well at all. We have recently moved to the Oklahoma City area and have heard people talking about a new state reading law. Can you give us any information?

— Newcomers

Dear Newcomers,

The Reading Sufficiency Act is a policy change that takes effect this school year for third-graders. This law was created because children who do not read well struggle in all other subjects.

Studies show that children who cannot read by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. It is much easier to remediate at this age than at the middle or high school levels. (As you may know, students must demonstrate eighth-grade reading proficiency to obtain a driver’s permit.)

Starting in kindergarten, students are given benchmark assessments to identify those who need intervention in reading. Parents are then notified in writing, and the school must develop a plan for those students. There are six exemptions to this policy. They are:

· English language learners who have had less than two years of instruction in English

· Students with disabilities who are on an alternative assessment plan

· Students who score within a minimum of the 45th percentile on an approved alternate standardized reading test

· Students who can demonstrate through a portfolio that they can read on grade level

· Students with disabilities who are on an IEP, have received intensive remediation in reading for more than two years or have been retained in a transitional grade

· Students who have received intensive remediation in reading for two or more years and who have been retained for two years (including transitional grade levels)

If you feel your child is eligible for an exemption, start by talking to your child’s teacher.

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