Educators discuss Alabama’s lowered reading score for third graders

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Two Troy University professors say the Alabama State Board of Education‘s decision to lower the reading score for third graders could be beneficial.

Under Alabama’s previous reading score, third graders needed to achieve a score equal or above 452 in order to progress to the fourth grade. Now, due to the state board’s latest decision, the score has been lowered to 435.

Some people may think the 17-point difference is a lot, but one educator says the the difference is smaller than you might think.

“[They’re] probably thinking of a normal grade, zero to 100, and so 17 points on a scale of 100 seems like a lot, but that’s not what [they’re] saying,” said Julia Rabitaille, an assistant professor of elementary education for Troy University.

Another Troy University professor told TrojanVision that lowering the reading score was necessary as students continue to rebound from the COVID pandemic.

“I feel like it’s a necessary evil, lowering the score will just give us that buffer to allow for students to come in and perhaps not do the best on that end of the year assessment, but have other evidence pieces that show that they can read on grade level,” said Dana Evans, an assistant professor of elementary education at Troy University.

Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey made a statement claiming that because of the new score, 10,000 or more students will be held back and will have to attend summer school.

“This is real, at the end of this year, thousands of students are in jeopardy of not hitting the cut score,” Mackey said at the meeting when the state board decided to lower the score.

Evans thinks students should be able to reach the goal, but only time and data will tell.

“I think across the board, students are going to meet this goal, I think as we kind of get into the first year of it being enacted, we’ll be able to see if those numbers actually do produce,” Evans said.

According to Mackey, the state board is expected to consider raising the score back up to 452 next summer.