By Robert Marin
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
12:28 PM CDT, October 17, 2012
A Kansas lawmaker considers a proposal that would require schools to hold back third graders who have trouble reading.
House Educational Planning Committee chairman Steve Huebert could propose the issue in the 2013 session. At least 14 states and Washington D.C. now require third graders to read at a certain level before being promoted to fourth grade.
School officials in the Pittsburg school district in southeast Kansas enacted a policy last year holding back middle school students who fail core classes. That district says the policy has worked at a middle school where 25% of students were failing last year.
"Most of it is because of lack of turning in work," says Pittsburg superintendent Destry Brown."of those 25%, probably 98% of those were because they weren't handing in any work."
Brown says only two sixth graders were retained and one is now getting all A's and working hard to possibly be placed back with classmates.
Still, Brown feels holding back third graders may not be the best idea to improve reading. Instead, the superintendent says third graders should be given interventions, and worked with on reading skills. Brown also says more funding for all-day kindergarten and early childhood programs could reach students at the most critical time for learning to read.
A spokesperson from Wichita schools says USD 259 does not have a retention policy, but parents can request that their child be held back if they feel it is in their child's best interest. A district spokesperson also noted, while some states have passed retention policies, their effectiveness is still in question, particularly for students who are proficient in all other areas but reading.
*Our news partners at KOAM-TV contributed to this report
Copyright © 2013, KWCH-TV