third grade

Madeline Fox / WLRN

The city of Delray Beach wants to make sure its elementary school students read at grade level.

It kicked off its eighth annual “Delray Reads” event at Plumosa School of the Arts on Thursday morning with the school choir singing to volunteers about how important it is to "Read, Read, Read."

Changes in education policy often emanate from the federal government. But one policy that has spread across the country came not from Washington, D.C., but from Florida. "Mandatory retention" requires that third-graders who do not show sufficient proficiency in reading repeat the grade. It was part of a broader packet of reforms proposed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.

Our education system has this funny quirk of grouping kids by birth date — rather than, say, intellectual ability or achievement or interest.

But developmental pathways are as individual as kids themselves.

And so there's a perpetual back-and-forth about whether to put certain kids in school a grade behind or ahead of their actual age.