The Norman Transcript

February 14, 2014

Second-grader struggles with reading

The Norman Transcript

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.

Only children who score an unsatisfactory (equal to a first-grade reading level or below) on the third-grade reading portion of the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests are at risk of being retained.

Please realize retention is a last resort option. Fifteen states who have implemented this same law have seen a significant drop in illiteracy. Retention is not necessarily a bad thing because it allows children to get the help they need to be successful adults.

Literacy coaches have been made available to all school districts. They are excellent resources for teachers as well as parents. Contact your child’s school for ideas and resources to help you help your child.

We see this as a very positive move because in our many years of education, the children who can’t read don’t succeed. We also are firm believers in returning to the teaching of phonics in the classroom. This not only assists in reading but in spelling and comprehension, as well.

While we’re on our soapbox, we would like to see a similar law in place for basic math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — and at the very least, a requirement in the memorizing of multiplication tables.

If you have questions left unanswered, please visit the Oklahoma State Department of Education website,

Please send questions to Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.

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