A decade ago, Florida made a consorted effort to make sure third graders could read, and it now appears that effort is paying off.
Since Florida adopted the law concentrating on students passing the third grade reading portion of the F-CAT, more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar laws.
Only seven of every 100 third graders have to repeat the grade. That’s down from 10 of every 100 in 2003.
Stewart Greenburg has worked on improving literacy with students across the country.
“Florida has made a commitment both in school districts, Legislature, Department of Education in focusing on early education,” said Greenburg. “Teachers have made a commitment in pre-K all the way through third grade and beyond to focus on making sure students know how to read well, think well and then support their answers in writing.
Since 2003, 127,000 have been held back because they didn’t pass the FCAT.
“It you can’t read, it's going to be very difficult to get a job, it's going to be very difficult to pass math or science or any other subject," said Juhan Mixon, of the Florida Association of School Administrators
Mixon said the drop of students needing to repeat their grade isn’t surprising.
“I think the numbers would continue to go down with time, simply because we are on an earlier basis of identifying students with problems,” said Mixon. “You would be doing something wrong if you did everything we’ve done and you’re not improving.”
The success doesn’t come cheap -- Florida spent $130 million on reading improvement last year alone.
There are six exemptions for students. Two of those include students with disabilities and English language learners with less than two years in a specialized English class.