- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A recent study showed a summer reading program didn’t help the skills of struggling Iowa third-graders, raising questions about a state law that will require children behind in reading to attend summer school or repeat a year.

The Iowa Reading Research Center study found that summer school does not help readers reach grade-level proficiency, but still assists with maintaining their skills so they don’t slip further behind.

“You can’t pin all your hopes on summer,” center director Deborah Reed said. “Even in the best designed programs, summer is still shorter than the regular academic year.”

As the state nears implementation of a contentious third-grade retention law in spring 2018, officials are trying to find ways to best structure the summer reading programs. The law requires students who are behind in reading by the end of the third grade to either repeat the grade or attend summer school. The law could affect about 25 percent of the state’s third-graders, The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2ghdPY1 ) reported.

Lawmakers have already pushed the legislation back once due to state funding, but are questioning whether it could be delayed again after the state Department of Education didn’t request funds in November for the summer program. The program has an estimated cost of between $9.3 million and $13.8 million. Governor spokesman Benn Hammes said the office will base its program evaluation on the December revenue estimates.

No formal recommendations were made after the research study, but one suggestion was to have students start summer reading programs at the end of kindergarten instead of the end of third grade.

According to the retention law, students are not required to pass summer school, but still need to attend 85 percent of the time in order to move to fourth grade. Summer programs must give at least 70 hours of intensive instruction.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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