Editorial: Quick fix

What’s the quickest way to improve fourth-grade reading scores? Keep poor readers in the third grade!

January 16, 2013


It’s hard to argue with Gov. Sam Brownback’s new emphasis on raising reading scores among Kansas youngsters, but both the governor and legislators need to make sure the state is seeking real improvement rather than a short-term fix that will simply make the statistics look better.

At a number of stops across the state last month, Brownback expressed his concern over the number of fourth-graders in Kansas public schools who aren’t proficient readers. Reports show 16.6 percent of fourth-graders were below the standard on Kansas assessment tests and 64 percent were below the proficient level on National Assessment of Education Program tests. To address that problem, Brownback says he will make specific proposals to the Legislature this year to boost fourth-grade reading scores.

However, Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, isn’t waiting to see the governor’s proposal and already has pre-filed a bill that proposes one strategy for improving fourth-grade reading scores: keep all third-graders who are less than proficient on state reading tests in the third grade. Over the long haul, Huebert’s bill might result in more third-graders learning to read, but its most immediate impact will be to artificially boost the number of fourth-graders who are proficient readers by keeping poor readers out of fourth grade.

There is no doubt reading is an essential skill for Kansas youngsters at all education levels, but the state should be looking at broad and meaningful ways to raise reading proficiency, not a quick fix that meets a short-term goal.


handlon 1 year, 3 months ago

4th grade students results for reading tests were actually 89./. Scoring proficient and above. Go to KSDE and look for yourself. Bell curve anyone? The NAEP tests randomly throughout our state, choosing 140 classrooms to be tested. We are in the process of moving to Common Core State Standards, which are quite different than our current reading standards used in Kansas. They are more rigorous and districts across Kansas are working to change curriculum accordingly. I am not certain, but I believe the NAEP tests align more closely with CCSS, which our students currently have not been taught. Therefore, the Kansas State Reading Test results are a more true reflection of our students' reading abilities in this state. Of course, the anti Ed regime wants us to react and believe that few 4th graders can read. Give our kids a chance with the new standards before we make laws that are unnecessary such as the one the representative is pushing.


Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 3 months ago

It's much better to repeat the third grade than to not be able to finish high school because you are unable to pass the classes. I can't believe that isn't obvious to everyone.

I could write a book about repeating grades. At a young age, it's not that important of an issue. When a child is older, then it is a serious problem.


Centerville 1 year, 3 months ago

When did it become so common and accepted for third-graders to not know how to read? How could expecting this be draconian? What the heck has all the money been spent on if they can't even begin to function?


Karl_Hungus 1 year, 3 months ago

Back in my day, we had these things called parents who took an active part in our lives. They would, and can you believe this, actually look at my school work and then quiz me or help me study for school. They would even talk with the teacher to make sure that they knew what was going on and would punish me if I did poorly. Can you believe that...frickin wow. Parents need to do their part if they want their kids to succeed in life.


KSManimal 1 year, 3 months ago

This editorial was brilliant and succinct, but most folks here seem to have missed the point.

Brownback and his cronies don't give a porcupine's posterior about kids and their ability to read (or lack thereof). This isn't about helping kids, but rather it is about creating an ILLUSION that they've helped kids.

4th grade reading scores not up to snuff? Just hold back all the poor readers and voila! 4th grade reading scores go through the roof!

Then, Brownie et al can use this bogus "success" to "prove" that all their cuts to public school funding haven't hurt anyone...


Haiku_Cuckoo 1 year, 3 months ago

The bulk of this responsibility falls on the parents. Don't let your kid spend hours on end playing video games. Take a weekly trip to the library instead and let him pick out a couple fun books to help build his reading skills. Your child will learn the basics of reading while in school, but it's up to you to help him develop that skill outside the classroom. Plus it's quality time spent with your child.


jayhawklawrence 1 year, 3 months ago

A very courageous topic to focus on after a major speech (not!) announcing the new corporate welfare state.

Guess the LJW didn't want to step up to the plate on this one.


OonlyBonly 1 year, 3 months ago

The idea that holding a child back is bad for the child is obscene. What do you gain by promoting a child who isn't proficient in basic societal tasks? They used to be held back. I knew some who were. They weren't crushed but they did perform better the next year!


Centerville 1 year, 3 months ago

There's nothing vindictive about having a child repeat a grade, especially to learn something as absolutely basic as first, second and third grade level reading. Why else are they in school? Why else should we bother even having schools if they can't move beyond square one?


4getabouit 1 year, 3 months ago

If you look deeper in the bill it also states that the retention can be waived by the parent. So, if my kid doesn't make the cut I can still push him forward.


cowboy 1 year, 3 months ago

I think the single most damaging thing that you could do to a child is hold them back. Put the resources back into schools to support these kids.


Greg Cooper 1 year, 3 months ago

How about we fund schools at the legal level and hire more remedial teachers?
doesn't that sound simple?


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 3 months ago

The obsession with flunking kids is nothing but a distraction designed to appeal to the far right who believe any problem can be solved if the measures are punitive and vindictive enough, facts and research to the contrary be damned.


Jackie Jackasserson 1 year, 3 months ago

So will they hire more third grade teachers to help with the student overload after this is put into practice?


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