The purpose of our study is to investigate reform policy, specifically a proposed third grade reading retention policy within the Borderlands. Under this policy, students not performing proficiently on the third grade reading standardized exam will be automatically retained in the third grade. The research methods and approach used in this study include an equity analysis formed by combining two steps across a Borderland county in New Mexico. The first step is a regression analysis to answer if access to early childhood education and access to highly qualified teachers inform differences in third grade reading scores, and the second step uses a LatCrit informed Spatial Analysis to create an equity index, to see how equity varies across the spaces of elementary schools. This allows us to essentially map Third Grade Reading Retention Reform Policy in the Borderlands. The setting of the study is in the U.S. Southwest Borderlands, specifically Doña Ana County, which borders Texas and Mexico, in southern New Mexico. Up to a quarter of the population is under the age of 18, two thirds (66.6%) of the population is Latino, and half of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Implications from this study include, for policy makers, policy considerations that come from a non-deficit thinking perspective and focus on systemic considerations to improving educational equity. Given that the setting demographically mirrors much of the state of New Mexico, as well as demographic shifts across communities throughout the U.S., this study provides further considerations for key systemic changes to improving academic measures like reading scores.
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