Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reading Well Is Foundation of Learning

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reading Well Is Foundation of Learning

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Shamane Thomas is right. It's hard to get a 5-year-old to focus on learning when he'd rather be playing.

Thomas recently told the Times-Union that because of a 5-year-old's "playful mind-set," she's skeptical about Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti's suggestion that children who are behind in kindergarten through second grade be sent to summer school.

Right now, the state requires many third-graders who are not reading at grade level to be held back. The way Vitti sees it children who are struggling to read early on would have a better shot at passing the third-grade tests if they go to summer school.

MORE THAN PLAYTIME

But what Thomas should understand is that 5-year-olds who are struggling to read can't afford to spend the entire summer playing.

They can't afford it when state assessment tests have shown that by the time Duval school children reach the third grade, 24 percent of them are not reading at grade level.

And they really can't afford it when, according to a 2012 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 16 percent of children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time.

That's a rate that's four times greater than that for proficient readers.

"Even in kindergarten and first and second grades, children are showing a year's growth in reading, but many of them start out being far behind," Vitti told me. "The difference is between showing a year's growth and getting them up to grade level.

"Then the children go into the summer and don't read or refine their skills, and they come back to school with a deficit."

Vitti, however, said he doesn't want to require kindergartners through second graders who are behind in reading to go to summer school because socioeconomic reasons might make it tough for some children to attend. …

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