Third grade emerges as key to student success

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  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 3, 2013 11:01 p.m.

    It cost around twelve thousand dollars per year to educate a child. If retentions is required, then parents ought to pay some tuition.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Jan. 3, 2013 4:15 p.m.

    Why don't we give some of that $10 million or whatever that was to the parents of children that learn to read by third grade? If parents do not know how to teach their child to read they can make a deal with a friend - you teach my child to read, he passes the test, I give you the money.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Jan. 3, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    One old man - great post! You are right - it must be done carefully to be successful. We call it "the gift of time" and if everyone does their part, it can be highly successful.

    Another important purpose of strong promotion requirements is to help parents and kids know precisely what is expected and what they have to be doing in order to "make it" each year. It is so sad to watch families, especially those new to our country and to our schools, as they struggle through not really knowing and understanding what they are to be doing in order to help their child succeed. Most schools do a terrible job of communicating this information.

    Strong promotion policies provide for excellent communication so parents and students know with confidence what they must do to succeed. Because there are real "teeth" in the policies - meaning students really will not be promoted if they don't "make it" - everyone pays very close attention to the requirements and many more families do their part to ensure their child's success all through the year.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 3, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    As a teacher who, on several occasions worked with struggling students and their parents to give the kids a chance to catch up by spending another year in grade (I guess that's called retention) I can tell you that when it's done properly it does work.

    I took a lot of heat from the district, but when both the parents AND the student understood and supported my recommendation, the kids had a chance to mature and catch up. It worked EVERY time -- including for two of my own children.

    The key to it all, however, was having the student accept the need to remain in grade for another year.

    The real reward came some years later when one young man, who was attending BYU at the time, introduced me to some of his friends as ". . . the man who saved me!" Had he not spent that second year in fourth grade, he almost certainly would not have been succeeding in college.

    Retention works -- but it must be used very carefully.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 2, 2013 11:22 p.m.

    Orem Parent,

    I'm certified in both Texas, and Utah.

    I agree with most of what you say, but am against continuous high expenditures, and I don't think in the box with others.

    For what it's worth, here are some ideas that I've used:

    * At the beginning of the school year, I've sent letters home requesting parent volunteers as aids. I've had parents come everyday for the year, and actually had to turn some away. This was tremendous help. Students enjoyed having mom there, and it improved their focus on class work.

    * I've had High School students come and read one on one with my sixth grade students. This helped both of them. They've also helped put plays together, and provided their own background, and costumes.

    * I've sent letters out to companies requesting donations. We received donations to cover field trips, plays, etc. This is also PR, and a tax write off for them.

    These didn't require addition funding, and made my job alot less stressful. Teachers need the independence of using their own strengths, and creativity rather then being micro-managed with new trendy strategies that usually don't work.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    Joe, in 10 years of running American Prep, I have had no less than 30-40 families at multiple campuses come to us who tell us that they begged the district to please retain their child and the district refused. For every parent that tells us this, there are certainly many who experienced the same thing that we never knew about.

    I don't have any reason to make this up, and I am unsure why you would say "the parents are the only ones that can retain a student". Written into our policy are benchmarks and standards. If students fail to meet them, we do not offer the student a seat in the next grade - even if the parents don't agree (though they usually do). We have had some parents fight it and some parents pull their students out. But we do have the power to retain, against parent wishes, according to our school policy.

    Perhaps the districts have policies that don't allow retention against the parents' will. We are not required to have such policies as charter schools.

  • Joe Schmoe Orem, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    Have to call the bluff of the charter school person above. The parents are the only ones that can retain a student. Parents don't have to "beg" the districts. The schools make recommendations but in Utah, it is up to the parent to ultimately decide.

    Nice try to plug your charter though.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    Retention is an important part of student and parent motivation, and one that we use in our charter school, with much success. We work hard to ensure we communicate daily with parents with regard to expectations. Every two weeks they receive a report card to find out if their child is keeping up. If not, there are remedies they must participate in to bring the student back on track.

    At the end of the year if the student has not reached all benchmarks, the teacher is NOT ALLOWED to recommend the student for promotion. A promotion committee meets and reviews all the information, and then meets with the parents and lets them know the options - summer school or retention or both, depending upon the case.

    The students often work HARD during the summer to catch up, but if they are unable to make up the ground, they are retained.

    Most parents are VERY HAPPY that we have standards in place, with real consequences, that work to motivate their child. We hear dozens of stories each year of parents begging the districts to retain their children but the districts refuse, which is one reason they seek enrollment with us.

  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    If you want to see a program that works, check out "Reading Recovery". They had it where we used to live and I hear that Alpine School District has started using it the last few years. I have seen kids go from not even knowing which way to turn the pages in a book (they were first graders) to surpassing their peers in their reading level. This was all done in a 20 week period of intense reading instruction. It is done one on one for 30 minutes a day and those teachers were working miracles. It costs quite a bit up front but to get the kids reading at grade level or above in first grade actually will save the schools for all of the interventions they would have to do later on. Not to mention the money saved by society for the problems these kids would have caused later on when they couldn't get a job because they can't read.

    There are things that are working. We just have to find them and implement them!

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 9:35 a.m.


    For someone claiming they are living in Texas you sure have a lot to say about education in UTAH!

    This article is spot on. There are many programs that are working and others that aren't. The money the legislature is going to waste on "computer adaptive testing" is going to be one of the biggest wastes yet.

    The kids that are struggling usually come from less than ideal family situations. These kids need one on one tutoring on how to read. They usually don't have parents that read to them at all. How does a kid learn to read if no one reads to them to show them how it is done? The school classes are way overloaded for a teacher to be able to spend one on one time.

    In Utah we used to be able to get away with big classes because the parents would make up for it at home. That is no longer the case. Changing demographics have caught up to us and it is time to pay the piper.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    Comments from some people are sickening. They forget very conveniently the role that any student's family must play in their education. Many students entering school now already have two and a half strikes against them.

    It will take much more than condemning schools, teachers, "liberals" and others to change that. Yet there are some out there who choose to ignore the causes in favor of blatting old and worn out hate radio talking points.

    Why not stop listening to hate radio and begin working with the rest of us to find some real solutions to a very difficult problem?

    Or would that be too much work?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Augustis said something very profound there.

    When I was an elementary teacher, I worked under two principals who had come to their jobs from high school. Both had been coaches and both remarked frequently to the effect that, "I had no idea how HARD it is to teach in elementary school. I had to prepare maybe two or three lesson plans per day. You guys have to plan for the entire curricula!"

    Historically, too, elementary teachers have much less financial support for classroom needs and spend much more out-of-pocket than do high school faculty members.

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    Jan. 2, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    As a 3rd grade teacher, I agree completely with this article. We need to possibly discuss implementing retention back into Utah Schools. It is amazing how "putting the fear of God" into parents enables their little darlings to succeed better. I have seen time and time again students, especially title one students who can't read, promoted because it is so "cruel" to retain. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. Students who are behind one or two grade levels are promoted with peers only to get further and further behind feeling frustrated and "stupid" compared to the rest of the class. I really like the idea of extending the school day for struggling readers. This would be a great alternative because there is very little time in the school day for one on one tutoring with those who are so far behind. Plus it is unfair to revisit items that should have been mastered in previous grades to those who are on or above grade level.

  • Agustis Sugar City, ID
    Jan. 2, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Elementary teachers should be our highest paid teachers for K-12. But that is not going to happen. Coaches who teach players to hurt and maim opposing players will be the highest paid as long as they win. We reap what we sow - eventually.

  • Kathy. Iowa, Iowa
    Jan. 2, 2013 7:51 a.m.

    When ever we notice an area of our own family budget needs support we take away from things that aren't working. Only government seeks to get more money from the tax payer.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 1, 2013 10:17 p.m.

    Looking at the picture. The girls are doing a writing assignment with crayons? Hmm?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 1, 2013 10:13 p.m.

    Blah, blah, blah:

    * we're going to need more funding
    * teachers needs higher pay
    * make teachers, more accountable through test scores of students.
    * new research based strategies to be implemented
    * extend the school year, or school days
    * more funding for after school, and Saturday tutoring
    * more difficult testing to make students scared
    * more programs, because students come first.

    How many times do we become fooled?

    It's like infrastructure. Every few years, that card is played to justify increases in spending.