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Reading Sufficiency Act impacts third grade students

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LAWTON, Okla._Moving on to the fourth grade will be a little more challenging for Oklahoma students now, due to a new state law that requires third grade students to read at a certain level.

The "Reading Sufficiency Act" will require third grade students to be tested in the spring and score satisfactory or higher on the test to be able to proceed to the fourth grade.

An unsatisfactory score is considered reading below a first grade level and if your child does fall into that category that doesn't necessarily mean your child will be held back. Districts have a reading sufficiency plan in place for remediation so those students can get the help they need.

Teresa Jackson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Language Arts said, "The schools are doing a great job serving the kids, they have a ninety minute, uninterrupted reading time each day and so they are receiving a lot of good instruction from the teachers."

Jackson also said they will do everything possible to make sure that none of their students get left behind. "They're tested three times a year, we will look at progress. Student's parents are notified after each test so they know where their student is and if they are at risk for retention."

A study showed that as many as 12% of Oklahoma's third graders would have been held back if the retention law would've gone into effect last year with almost half of those being eligible for exemptions. The exemptions include students where English is their second language, students with disabilities and those that score high enough on an alternate test.

Instructional Literacy Coach, Sarah Totte said their teachers have undergone extra training in how to identify those at risk students.

"In the future we are still working on bridging the gap between the third and fourth grade. Helping those teachers understand that they will need to support the third grade students that might be at risk," said Totte.

Totte said they plan on working with their Pre-K programs so they know how to prepare students for kindergarten, which is when early literacy screenings start.

"I think if our Pre-K programs have an awareness of what is expected when they enter kindergarten, it's going to help build a stronger foundation for our kiddos."

On last year's test only 76 students scored unsatisfactory in the entire district. A recent study shows that the lack of reading proficiency reaches across economic lines.  The survey said 79% of low-income Oklahoma fourth graders and 57% of higher income students are not reading at their proper grade level. 

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