A recent study financed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation — and very widely publicized — claims that if students can’t read “proficiently” by the end of third grade, then they are more likely to drop-out from high school. I’ve previously posted about this study, and sharply criticized it for its tone and some of its recommendations (see Here We Go Again: Private Foundations Have A Place (And Have To Be Kept In Their Place)).
Given all that, however, the report does seem to have prompted some good work on literacy, even from our Mayor, in whom I have little confidence when it comes to education issues.
Stephen Krashen has just come out with his own analysis of the study, which I think is pretty fascinating. It points out a number of misinterpretations made by the study’s author and people publicizing it.
I hope I’m not misinterpreting his analysis, but a key point seems to be that there is nothing at all magical about third grade, and there’s a huge danger in focusing on it. By doing so, we could be shortchanging so many other efforts that could be even more effective, and send a damaging message to young people who might not meet the artificial level of “proficient” when we say they’re supposed to…