Transparency in Teaching (Stuff) Podcast

038 Retaining Third Graders Who Can’t Read: Right or Wrong?

A recent article in “The 74” caught my attention this week. It discussed how Tennessee and Michigan are currently debating removing the statute requiring third graders who are reading below grade level to be retained. With state testing starting, people are worried about holding back the potentially large number of these students who may not pass the test. You see, aside from the average number of students that struggle with reading at this grade level, this year’s batch of third graders were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit. People worry that the two years of virtual learning and closed schools have potentially created a glut of below-level readers.
What would be the consequences of holding back so many students? For one, it is expensive. You will need more teachers and classrooms to manage the overflow. Could an exception be made for this group? The article states, “Parents, advocates, and educators say it’s unfair to base the decision on one assessment, especially for students who were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit. But state officials and Republican legislators argue it’s wrong to promote students who aren’t ready.” Gotta say I’m siding with the state officials on this one.

For a written version of today’s episode, Click here.
For links to all the resources used in today’s episode, go to and see “Third Grade Reading: The Key to Academic Everything

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