Is it smart to hold back third-graders who can't read well?

llustration by Todd Detwiler for TIME

If you want kids to succeed in school, look no further than the third grade. So says a body of research showing that if kids haven't mastered reading by then, their ability to keep up in other subjects starts to decline. That has led 32 states to adopt policies specifically targeting third-grade reading skills. In 2012, 13 states have passed laws that aim to identify struggling readers and intervene before they reach fourth grade; 14 have gone so far as to require schools to hold back third-graders who don't score high enough on the state reading test. Legislators advocating intervention have...

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