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Knoxville — A study conducted by a University of Tennessee statistician shows that many Tennessee students stop improving their reading skills when they reach middle school.

Dr. William Sanders presented parts of his report to members of the Tennessee Legislature’s House Education Committee.

“They asked me to come and review the whole ‘value-added’ concept Tennessee uses as the cornerstone of its accountability system,” Sanders said.

The study took average scores in math, science, language and reading classes for every school district in Tennessee. The results showed continued growth in comprehension in everything but reading.

“We see in a lot of districts improvement in reading comprehension from grade 3 to grade 5. But when we get to grade 6, middle school, we’re seeing reading comprehension skills slow down.”

Sanders said one reason for the decline may be the lack of organized reading classes in many schools, due to the advent of block-scheduling of classes that spend the time on other subjects.

The study will be published later this month.