VIDEO: More disagreement over retention for struggling students

By Rob Nikolewski on November 13, 2013
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READING TO LEARN: A study from the Manhattan Institute claims that holding back students who are failing works in the long run.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. – The debate over retaining students who cannot read at a minimal level by the end of third grade has divided — she’s for it — and Roundhouse Democrats — most are against it.

On Wednesday, a senior fellow at the said his research shows retention efforts in Florida have “a positive effect.”

But Democrats were unmoved, questioning the details of the study and making distinctions between retention vs. intervention for struggling students.

“What we’re finding in Florida is a pretty large and sustained positive effect for students,” said , an assistant professor at the College of Education at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs after appearing before the

What about the argument that holding back a failing third-grader stigmatizes students?

“It’s an equally plausible story that it stigmatizes a kid if he moves on to the next grade and he can’t read as well as his peers and continues to fall behind,” Winters said.

His presentation included this graph, comparing Florida students who were retained against those promoted under the state’s retention policy:

But Democrats seized on various elements in the study, including that the Florida program required students who were retained to:

  • attend summer school
  • be placed in the classroom of a “high-performing teacher”
  • receive an additional 90 minutes of daily reading instruction during the school year, and
  • have schools develop academic improvement plans for each of the retained students

Citing the cost of such requirements, , said, “If we can write a blank check to the schools, we can do great things.”

“They were showing some good gains and I wouldn’t doubt it given their interventions,” said , who is also a high school teacher.

“It certainly doesn’t change my mind,” Soules said. “If anything it adds additional information that it’s huge efforts into intervention that make the difference.”

talked to Winters after the hearing. Here’s our video:

And here’s our video of Sen. Soules:

Gov. Martinez and her supporters have tried and failed three times to get the Legislature to pass a third-grade retention bill. It’s a virtual certainty they’ll try again the upcoming 30-day session, which starts in January.

the link to the study by Winters.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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