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Education Department Won't Support Proposal Holding Back Third Graders Who Can't Read

Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-44, is crafting legislation that could hold back third grade students who aren’t at reading level, but Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says the department won’t support it. Jenkins acknowledges the bill may not be popular, saying some educators argue it’s traumatic to hold back students and the cost of interventions built into the law could be burdensome.    “I think the school systems are going to say, yeah that’s great but who is going to pay for interventions,” Jenkins told WFPL. But Jenkins says it's important to start the conversation addressing what some studies show: third grade students not reading on level are much less likely to graduate high school. Over a dozen states have some form of similar legislation in place. Jenkins says she’s looking at Ohio’s law, which focuses on interventions as early as kindergarten, and includes a provision allowing some students--like English language learners--not reading at grade level to continue on. But Holliday says there’s no research to prove the laws are successful and the education department will not support it. While he does say it’s important to have interventions in place for young students who struggle to read, Kentucky already has those rules in place.  The challenge is giving schools the resources they need to implement those laws, he says.