Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has signed the Read by Three Act (SB 391) designed to improve early literacy and student achievement. The law includes early identification and parental notification of reading deficiencies, intensive reading interventions for students in need of additional support and, as a last resort, retention at the end of third grade with more intensive interventions.
The law also requires progress monitoring plans for struggling readers, which prescribe the interventions that their schools will provide, learning support and professional development, and that school districts and charter schools report the number of students retained each year in third grade.
World-renowned literacy expert and activist Professor Stephen Krashen doubts the law will achieve its stated goals; “If Governor Sandoval and the Nevada legislature are serious about improving reading in Nevada, they should stop worrying about how well children read at grade three and invest more in libraries and librarians. Children (and adults) can improve in reading at any age, and the way it happens is through reading interesting and comprehensible books and other reading material. But for this to happen, readers need to have access to reading material. Those living in poverty do not: They have fewer books in their homes, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods. For children of poverty, the only source of reading material is the library, and study after study has shown that higher library quality is related to better reading achievement.”
On the other hand, Patricia Levesque, CEO for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a lobbying group founded by former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, backs the law, “Nevada is taking a critical step to ensure every student has basic reading skills by the end of the third grade and struggling students have the resources they need to become proficient readers, graduate high school and achieve future success.”
But, Krashen also points out a fundamental flaw in the Act, “According to the Nevada Read by Three Act, parents will be notified each year, kindergarten through third grade, if their child is not reading on grade level. The definition of grade level is the 50th percentile. This means that half the children in Nevada will be considered deficient in reading, no matter how well everybody reads. Members of the Nevada legislature and the Governor need some remediation in basic math.”
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