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South Carolina to Tie Fourth Grade Promotion to Reading Scores

Under a new South Carolina law, third graders who fail a state-administered standardized reading exam will be held back starting in 2018. The policy is part of the state’s new Read to Succeed Act.

What’s the Latest?

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley this week signed into law a new set of reading standards that will determine if students can be promoted to fourth grade.

From Education Week:

“That requirement is part of the Read to Succeed Act, which aims to improve reading levels across the state. The new retention policy for 3rd graders includes exemptions for English-learners, students with disabilities, and those who have been previously retained, among others, and requires that students who are retained receive intensive reading support.”

The new law, supported by a bi-partisan contingent, was drafted after the state’s fourth graders ranked 42nd in reading skills. The southern state made education headlines earlier this year when it decided to dump Common Core in favor of its own standards.

What’s the Big Idea?

The new law also augments the state’s 4K program, an expansion of Kindergarten for 4-year-olds for which state Democrats have long fought. Linking advanced reading standards to the 4K expansion represents a refreshing brand of across-the-aisle deal brokering often unseen in divisive legislatures. What remains to be realized is whether the new reading standards will lead to unforeseen issues in the future. Although exemptions exist for English-learners and students with disabilities, there is not yet any word on if a safety net exists for kids who may somehow bomb the test despite apt reading skills.

Read more at Education Week

Photo credit: Kinga / Shutterstock


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