Move On When Reading: Implementation of a Third Grade Retention Policy in Arizona

By Lenay Dunn, Scott Vince, Patricia Castillo

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Description

Arizona’s Move On When Reading (MOWR) policy requires schools to retain third grade students whose reading scores on the state test are within the lowest performance level.

This state policy raises important questions:

  • How are districts and schools making sense of and implementing the policy?
  • What interventions and what quality of interventions are schools using to support students who were retained?
  • What, if any, implementation challenges are schools and districts experiencing?
  • Is the policy improving reading achievement?

WestEd, with support from the Helios Education Foundation, is conducting a two-year study of MOWR implementation in a small set of districts and schools. This brief reports on the first year of the study, describing initial implementation of MOWR in the study sites, and presenting preliminary findings based on qualitative data collected during summer 2014 through spring 2015.

Some Key Findings

  • Districts and schools made intentional efforts to prevent retention among third-grade students
  • Teachers, students, and parents were reportedly impacted by the possibility of retention under MOWR in both positive and negative ways
  • Teacher, principal, and district staff knowledge and understanding of MOWR varied across sites
  • To implement MOWR, districts leveraged financial and material resources beyond those provided by MOWR literacy plan funds

The brief includes key recommendations for policymakers and education experts to help them make more informed decisions on how to further support implementation of MOWR.

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