Randy Yohe Published

From Third Grade To Fourth Grade? Bill Highlights Proficiency Goals, Possible Hold Back


House Bill 4510 sets a goal of ensuring that third grade students are proficient in reading and math before moving on to the fourth grade.

The bill passed the House of Delegates 84-11. Del. Jim Barach, D-Kanawha, voted against it. He thinks student assessment needs to begin earlier and worries about the personal challenges in being held back.

“I’m very concerned about social promotion that if all your friends are in the fourth grade, and you’re in the third grade, you know, you’re looked down on,” Barach said.

The bill says that students who don’t show grade level proficiency in reading and math by the end of the third grade become increasingly prone to not succeed in successive grades, and also prone to drop out before graduation.

House Bill 4510 calls for interventions regarding reading and math skills – then relies, with some exceptions, on teacher assessments of 3rd graders under consideration of being held back.

Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, voted for the bill, with some concerns regarding the resources to see the process through. However, he is pleased with the process itself.

“Even if a parent says, you know, I want to pass on my child, which I understand,” Hornbuckle said. “It provides for that whole extra year that they’re going to be receiving support in these areas where they didn’t do so well.”

Del. Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, is a public school teacher who said the bill would not guarentee student proficiency.

“This bill does not do anything to actually address that,” Thompson said. “And it really is just adding on extra over-bureaucratic, in my opinion, policy on our elementary school teachers”

Senate Education Committee Vice Chair Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, also worried about funding the resources needed to implement this assessment initiative.

“You have the lower education classes that say they can’t get helpers in there as teacher assistants,” Roberts said. “And now we’re going to put a bill in there that’s going to add more on them.”

House Bill 4510 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee on its second reading.