Move On When Reading

Arizona law A.R.S.§15-701, also known as the “Move On When Reading” policy, requires that a student not be promoted from third grade to fourth grade if he or she scores at the “falls far below” level on the state’s third grade reading test. “Falls far below” indicates that the child is reading at a much lower level than is expected of a third-grader and needs additional help.

The purpose of the policy is to give children who have significant reading challenges more time to learn. It ensures that these students will receive the intensive instruction they need to accelerate their learning and catch up in reading.

What Schools are Required to Do:

Arizona law A.R.S.§15-704 states that districts or charters are required to:

  • Have a comprehensive K-3 assessment system
  • Provide for universal screening of pupils in preschool through third grade programs to identify students who have reading difficulties
  • Have a research-based reading curriculum
  • Provide explicit instruction and intensive intervention
  • Send out an annual written notice to K-3 parents about the policy
  • Send a second letter to those students falling far below on assessments throughout the year

For parents of students that have been identified as having difficulties with reading, a separate written notification is sent that includes:

  • Description of current reading services provided to pupil
  • Description of supplemental services to be provided
  • Parental strategies to assist student in attaining reading proficiency
  • Retention statement and explanation of exemption policy
  • Description of district or charter policy on mid-year promotion to a higher grade

If your child is held back in third grade…

Retention does not mean that your child has failed. It does not mean that teachers or parents are not working hard enough. It means that your child needs and will have more time and help to catch up and read at grade level.

The law requires that students held back must be supported through appropriate strategies, which include:

  • Intensive reading instruction before, during, or after the regular school day
  • Being assigned a different teacher for reading instruction
  • Summer school reading instruction
  • Online reading instruction

Learn more at:

If a child scores “Falls Far Below”…

He/she may be eligible for promotion from third grade through “good cause exemptions” — meaning:

  • An English Language Learner or limited English proficient student who has had fewer than two years of English language instruction.
  • A student with a disability (as defined in section 15-761 of the Third Grade Reading Retention law) who has a recommendation from an individualized education program (IEP) team; the student’s parents/caregiver must also agree that the promotion to fourth grade is appropriate based on his/her IEP

Important questions to ask your principal or school:

  • How will I know that my child has a reading problem?
  • How often will my child be assessed and how will I be kept up to date on my child’s progress?
  • How do you determine what kind of extra support and instruction my child needs?
  • What parent activities or workshops are available to me to help my child with reading?
  • If my child is retained and makes progress in reading proficiency during the summer or school year, can my child be promoted to fourth grade?