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Promotion of 3rd Graders Tied to Reading Scores Under New S.C. Law

Third graders in South Carolina who fail to demonstrate reading proficiency on a state test will be held back starting in the 2017-18 school year, according to legislation signed this week by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

That requirement is part of the Read to Succeed Act, which aims to improve reading levels across the state. The new retention policy for 3rd graders includes exemptions for English-learners, students with disabilities, and those who have been previously retained, among others, and requires that students who are retained receive intensive reading support.

A few weeks ago, the Oklahoma legislature was in the news for doing just the opposite—and ending a similar 3rd grade retention policy. That decision was the result of much back and forth with Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who was in favor of the policy for holding back struggling readers. 

The new South Carolina law also expands an existing full-day kindergarten program for "at-risk" 4-year-olds to more students across the state. Democrats in the legislature say they'd been pushing for expansion of that program for years. 

South Carolina recently grabbed headlines for deciding to dump the common core and write its own standards, though how much the rewrite will borrow from the Common Core State Standards remains to be seen.

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