By Pearl Chang Esau, President & CEO of Expect More Arizona
Q: I’m hearing a lot about the program Move On When Reading and its importance in third grade. My daughter is a little behind and I’m concerned. What do I need to know about this and how can I help my child? – Shannon from Anthem
A: Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is one of the most important predictors of high school graduation and career success. Your involvement in your daughter’s education will undoubtedly play a huge role in her success.
Move On When Reading is a policy that was passed in Arizona in 2010 that requires schools to hold back third graders who score in the Falls Far Below category on the AIMS reading test. The score to retain a student on AzMERIT, the test that replaced AIMS in reading last year, still needs to be determined. Some students are exempt from the law, including certain English Language Learners, students with individual education plans, students in the process of a special education evaluation, or students diagnosed with a significant reading impairment, including dyslexia.
The idea behind the law is to give struggling students additional support to be able to read at grade level so they are able to make the important transition to the 4th grade. Students who are retained are able to access services that may include summer school, online reading instruction, extra help before, during or after the school day, or switching reading instructors.
Even though the score for AzMERIT is being determined to hold back students, many schools have systems in place to identify struggling readers earlier in the year and provide the necessary support to help your child catch up.
As a parent, your involvement in your daughter’s academic success, at every stage, opens the door to opportunities and increases her options for the future. One of the most important things you can do is build a strong relationship with your child’s teacher(s) and check in regularly about your child’s progress. Together, you can set goals together for your child and if she is behind you can ask about ways to help her succeed. Ask questions such as: How often will my child be assessed?, How will I be kept up to date on my child’s progress? and How do you determine what kind of extra support and instruction my child needs?
Additionally, you can encourage your daughter to read and reread familiar books for 20 minutes every day. Ask her to pick out a new vocabulary word from one of the books she is reading. Talk about what the word means and then make up a sentence with the new word. Try to use the word again that week. Your daughter’s teacher will have more great ideas to for you to make learning fun at home.
Two other important things you can do are to find out about what your child will be learning in each grade and do some fun activities at home to reinforce what your child is learning in the classroom. You can download our parent guides at ExpectMoreArizona.org. By doing these things, you will not only make education a top priority in your home, but can help your daughter succeed.