Nevada Board of Education Finalizes Read by Grade 3 Promotion-Retention Decision Making Criteria

Immediate Release


- August 22, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada’s State Board of Education has adopted a regulation that identifies three key elements of a promotion-retention decision-making process required under Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 Act of 2015 (SB 391).

“An incredible amount of research and thought has gone into this going back to Governor Brian Sandoval’s initial legislation in 2015 ensuring that students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “The research is clear - a clear trajectory to future academic success is established only when a student is able to develop a strong foundation in early reading by the end of third grade.”

All kindergarten, first, second and third grade students who demonstrate difficulty with early reading are identified through early assessments. These students are then provided extra support by highly qualified teachers. This intensive work provides them with a life-changing opportunity to accelerate their reading growth. Protocols defined within this regulation will serve as key determining factors for making a decision to either promote a student to fourth grade or to retain him/her for another year of third grade in a very intensive reading intervention-based third grade setting. The decision-making year for making such determinations will occur in 2019-2020. The first actual year of implementation will occur in 2020-2021.

The Board adopted the Nevada Department of Education’s (NDE) recommendations on the three identified components of this Read by Grade 3 process on Thursday:

  • The identification of the required passing score which Grade 3 students must obtain on the criterion-referenced Smarter Balanced English Language Arts (ELA) examination in order to be promoted to Grade 4. Beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year, students who perform at a Level 2 - Approaching Standards, Level 3 - Meets Standards, and Level 4 - Exceeds Standards would be automatically promoted to Grade 4. Students who perform at a Level 1 - Emerging/Developing Standards would be identified for a possible Read by Grade 3 retention intervention.
  • The identification of the name of an alternative examination for Grade 3 pupils who do not obtain a passing score on the Smarter Balanced ELA examination. The Board adopted the NWEA MAP Growth K-3 Reading Assessment as Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 alternative examination. The rationale for choosing this particular tool was based on a previously adopted 2016 regulation by the board which adopted it as Nevada’s primary indicator for identifying students in kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 3 as “struggling readers”. 
  • The identification of the required score which such students must obtain on this alternative examination in order to be promoted to Grade 4. NDE has researched the correlation between the Smarter Balanced end-of-year third grade reading scores and the NWEA MAP Growth end-of-year third grade reading scores. The Board adopted NDE’s recommendation that students who perform at the 31st percentile level or above with a Rasch Unit Scale (RIT) score of 191 or above on the NWEA MAP Growth Reading Assessment will be promoted to Grade 4. Students who perform at the 30th percentile level or below or with a RIT score falling below 191 would be identified for a possible Read by Grade 3 retention intervention.

The following good-cause exemptions would negate a Read by Grade 3 retention decision. Local educational decision-makers may apply one of these exemptions in order to promote a student who does not meet the assessment requirement. Such a decision would supersede the student’s performance on the grade 3 Smarter Balanced ELA examination. Any student is eligible for these exemptions if he/she:

  • Demonstrates an acceptable level of proficiency on an the MAP Growth K-3 Reading Assessment;
  • Demonstrates through a portfolio of the student’s work, proficiency in reading at grade level beyond the retention level;
  • Is limited English proficient and has received less than two years of instruction in an English Language program;
  • Has received two or more years of remediation and was previously retained for two years in kindergarten, first, or second grades;
  • Is a pupil with a disability with an individualized education program that indicates the pupil’s testing requirement is not appropriate;
  • Is a pupil with a disability that has taken the test, has received remediation and has been previously retained.

“While initial data indicates a significant number of students may be retained in third grade, the good-cause exemptions ensure fairness in this process,” Canavero said. “I can’t emphasize enough, the goal of Read by Grade 3 is not to punish anyone, rather the goal of this program is to enhance a student’s ability to read successfully - thus ensuring success throughout his/her entire academic experience.”