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Should We Retain Kids to Raise Reading Achievement? Part II

• Cari Miller

In part I of a two-part blog series, Timothy Shanahan, a Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Director of the Center for Literacy, addressed the question “Should We Retain Kids to Raise Reading Achievement?” Professor Shanahan highlighted Florida’s literacy-based promotion, and presented the research that suggests it’s working, but felt a Part II was needed to address the question fully. Part II has arrived and Professor Shanahan shares additional thoughts on whether retention can improve student reading achievement. One of his statements worth highlighting:

“Florida did more than just flunk kids: they did a great job of ensuring that classrooms across the state were beefing up their teaching of phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency, and they made sure there were ongoing interventions available to struggling readers. They provided substantial coaching and other professional development for their teachers, and supported extensive summer school and after school programs. Florida ensured that retained students got the necessary instruction to make real progress.”

The key takeaway here: states can’t just simply retain students for retention sake, they have to provide a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading instruction ensuring all students are provided effective reading instruction to meet their needs. If students are unable to read at grade level by the end of third grade, giving them one more year with a highly effective teacher and a different course of action to ensure they catch up with their peers has proven to be an effective practice for Florida students.

Read part II here



About the author

Cari Miller

Cari Miller serves as Policy Director of Early Literacy for ExcelinEd. She works hand in hand with states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading policy, and she supports state departments with effective policy implementation. Cari is a former elementary teacher and reading coach. She also served as the Deputy Director of Just Read, Florida!, Governor Jeb Bush’s statewide literacy initiative. At Just Read, Florida!, she served in other capacities, including: Elementary Reading Specialist, Director of Reading First and Director of Elementary Reading. Her sole mission is to improve student reading achievement across the nation.