LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - As a fresh bunch of third graders returns to school next month, they'll be facing a new rule when it comes to progressing on to the next grade level.
Starting with the 2017-2018 school, third graders in South Carolina Public Schools must demonstrate reading proficiency. Otherwise, they'll be held back.
That determination will be made based on the SC READY assessment. Students who score at the lowest achievement level, receiving a "Not Met 1" score, must be retained per the law.
According to the Department of Education, students should be able to read on their own and understand a variety of text at the end of third grade. That means they can read and understand words, sentences, and paragraphs without help. The standard is for third graders to be self-directed critical thinkers and readers.
"The research is showing us that in kindergarten, a child can get 30 minutes of remediation to really close that gap. But by the time we're getting to third grade, it takes 3 hours of intervention. So we're really trying to catch the kids earlier and not sending them on if they're not quite ready," Wood Elementary School teacher Casey Hallman said.
That said, the state has put exemptions into place for some students, like those with disabilities. It also offers fast track summer reading camps.
While most kids in South Carolina waste away their summer days spending time outdoors, in front of the TV, or with friends, about 8,000 students are still roaming school halls.
Summer reading camps are taking place at districts all over the state, including in Lexington School District Two.
At Wood Elementary School, reading coaches and teachers Hallman work with small groups of students who need extra guidance with reading skills.
"We're closing a lot of gaps," Hallman said. "These kids have made significant progress in the five weeks they've been here. What we're doing is continuous progress monitoring, so we're looking at them. We read with them twice a week, and we do a running record. And in that running record we analyze their miscues or missteps they make, their self-corrections, and then we're giving them teaching points. So we're telling them this is what we need to work on to help you become a better reader."
About half of the students attending summer reading camps across the state are third graders. The law does allow that any student retained for poor reading skills can get an exemption to move on if they succeed in summer reading camp.