Angie Sullivan teaches elementary school in Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas). Most of her children are poor and ELL. She writes often about the disastrous policies imposed on the schools by the legislature.

Angie writes:

Read-by-Three is upon us. Ready to damage disenfranchised kids because as Assemblyman Elliot Anderson stated: They need “tough love”.

I will note here poor children need a lot of things – “tough love” isn’t one of the things.

Basically read-by-three requires students to read on grade level by third grade or they are not promoted to the next grade.

Do you see the fatal flaws?

1. Not research based or proven effective – academically or politically

2. Money diverted so it does not reach the kids who need it the most.

3. Money spent on people who are not directly teaching kids.

4. Language learners and IEP students in double jeopardy without access or support

Let me explain:

A century of education research proving retention does NOT work should be enough.

Simply: Whole group learning did not work the first time so the remedy should not be another year of whole group learning. Repetition of a grade level, without a significant change in the method of instruction does not work. Real remedies would include smaller class-size, differentiated instruction, language learning scaffolding if necessary, or individualized support like tutoring in small groups. The worst possible remedy is blanket retention for large masses of at-risk studennts.

States like Florida which have used this destructive program – are now regretting it. Data shows it failed badly. Academically and politically.

Florida may promote 3rd graders who fail standardized tests

Besides the complete failure of this education policy – Nevada presses forward intent on replication of bad policies of other states.

To add insult to injury, the program is grant based. The Northern school districts applied and received most of the funding. Now Clark County which has 80% of the at-risk primary students will only receive 47% of the money to support kids so they are not retained. While 20% of the children in rural Nevada will receive the bulk of the money and possibly avoid the punitive result.

With the inequitable funding Clark County receives, CCSD is hiring many “read-by-three” strategists. Again – this does not change the method of instructional delivery. Another teacher who is not working with directly with students? This has been very ineffective and tried many times by the district. Teachers who are not assigned students often are assigned lunchroom tasks, playground duty, and paperwork by adminstrators. Very few specialists are effective because they do not work with kids.

Supposedly language learners and students with IEPs will be “exempt”.

Which shows a further flaw, since parents who often do not have an e-mail address must navigate the enrollment system in Infinite Campus accurately identifying their child as LEP. Parents who do not speak English or regularly use the Internet get limited support to go through this process. Accuracy of data in the system is questionable and I have seen many young children enrolling themselves in school because they are the person in the family who uses a computer regularly. Identification is complex and inaccurate.

Also if certain students are “exempt” will they be ignored? Is it better to not mark accurately so a child may receive instruction? Even if this means jeopardy? This is an unintentional result of placing pressure on students and kids. Schools will focus on kids to avoid retention while not focusing on others. Especially when working in a system which is not appropriately funded. Limited resources and too many at-risk kids means tough choices which are unfortunate need to be made.

This is a big civil rights and access problem. Along with being seriously flawed legislation.

It will cost millions of tax payer dollars.

Listening to teachers could have prevented this destruction.

Now teachers will have to make do – while “tough love” lawmakers brag about putting needed information in spam. I hope the campaign donation from reformers was worth it for the assembly democrats.

Reformers enjoy disruption. Disruption is teaching zero kids. It is just destructive.