Sent to Education Week, Feb. 4, 2019
Ed Week announced a study that concluded that “Repeating 3rd Grade Could Help Struggling English Learners” (Feb. 1). Repeaters, they reported, were less likely to need later remediation in English and were more likely to take advanced math and science in middle school.
What happened in the extra year of grade 3 that make this happen? One possibility is that repeaters had the chance to develop a pleasure reading habit in English, as grade 3 tends to includes more fiction, and less “reading for information” than grade 4.
Studies consistently show that self-selected pleasure reading (which includes a great deal of fiction) is a strong predictor of proficiency in English as a second language, impacting vocabulary, spelling, writing and reading comprehension. It also results in more knowledge of social studies and science.
Researchers also found that the impact of repeating grade 3 was stronger with students from higher socio-economic backgrounds, that is, those with more access to reading material at home, at school, and in the community.
If this hypothesis is correct, it means we should invest more in school and public libraries and librarians in less affluent communities, and continue to encourage self-selected reading. If we do this, maybe the need for retaining acquirers of English as a second language will be vastly reduced.
Original article: (https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/elacontentstnds.pdfEnglish-Learners”)