Virtually the entire first three years of a students K-12 education is focused on
learning how to read. From kindergarten through second grade, children start with learning
the basics, like the sounds letters make and reading simple words, and then move on to
learning how to read and understand the meaning of complex words, sentences, and
But then a big change occurs in the third grade. In third grade, students shift from learning to read to reading to learn. In other words, for the first time in school, they are spending most of their time applying their reading skills independently, to begin to learn new and more complex subjects and ideas. When they reach fourth grade, their textbooks become more complex; reading passages are longer. Students use encyclopedias, websites, and other written materials to do research for history reports, science projects, and other schoolwork. Those who have trouble understanding what they are reading will find it very difficult to keep up with the coursework and their classmates. For some students, this can lead to years of difficulty in school and limited opportunities in adult life.
Virtually every study conducted on this subject has found that the overwhelming majority of children who cannot read independently by the time they leave the third grade will most likely never learn to read on grade level. That is why the State of Florida is drawing the line at third grade.