2,000 third graders would be held back under bill

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 7:40 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Third graders who cannot read at their level could be doomed to repeat the third grade.

A bill would hold back all third graders who do not pass the state's reading assessment test. Currently, educators and parents decide when a student is held back.

"The statistics say it hasn't worked in our state," said Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, the bill's sponsor.

Dammeier said third graders who cannot read at a third grade level have a one in eight chance of ever reading at their grade level.

He said those students also are four times more likely to drop out of school than other students.

Dammeier's bill would provide the students with extra tutoring and summer school.

Educators lined up to speak against the bill during its hearing Wednesday.

"We don't go out and tell Boeing how to build an airplane," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who favors the current system.

"Retaining a student at the third grade level is way too late," said Ron Sisson, principal at Lacey's Seven Oaks Elementary.

Sisson said if lawmakers want to help, they need to provide more resources for students before they reach third grade.

"Use these monies to extend the school year. Use these monies to help parents to understand how to better educate their child," said Sisson.

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