In 2011 the Utah Legislature passed a bill that is now part of the Utah State code 53A-1-606.6 requiring a mid-year assessment of a student’s reading ability. It requires Garfield School District to test all students in first, second and third grades at midpoint of the school year to assess if the student is reading on grade level. In Garfield School District, we will use the DIBELS reading assessment to test the students. If your student is identified as below grade level, you will receive a letter from the school before February 15th notifying you of the situation. You should also receive suggestions for remediation provided by the District to help your student improve their reading level. If you receive a letter from the school stating that your child is reading below grade level please contact your child’s teacher to schedule a meeting to make sure we are all working to improve the student’s reading scores.
Why is reading on grade level so important by the end of 3rd grade? The answer is simple but a powerful idea that from third grade onward, students should be reading to learn, not learning to read.
According to the Center for Learning and Development, if children receive instruction in phonological and alphabetic skills and learn to apply that knowledge to decoding words, they are very likely to succeed at reading. Once children fall behind, they seldom catch up, a reason that several states now promote early intervention to prevent reading problems. Reading level in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, moreover, is an astonishingly good predictor of reading achievement into high school.
A study commissioned by the Casey Foundation found that high school dropout rates for students who were unable to read on grade level by third grade were four times higher than students who read proficiently by third grade. 88% of students who did not graduate from high school were either “below basic,” or “basic, not proficient” on reading tests in third grade. The effects increased significantly when poverty was taken into consideration.
The best thing we can to do to assure success for our students in their future years is make sure they are at or above grade level by the 3rd grade. If we can do this, the statistics of success are in their favor. It is a collaborative effort between the students, parents and teachers where we see the most success. Please take some time to visit with your child’s teacher about their reading level, their future depends on it.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton