Third-grade reading guarantee results reported by state

by Marc KOvac Capital Bureau Chief Published:

COLUMBUS -- More than half of third graders scored high enough on an initial October reading test to meet state requirements to advance a grade level next year, education officials said Dec. 12.

A total of 56 percent of the youngsters were proficient or higher on the assessments.

But education officials say more needs to be done to ensure students are reading at the appropriate grade level and not promoted year after year just to remain with their peers.

"I think it's really urgent -- beyond urgent -- that we invest in this issue," State Superintendent Richard Ross told reporters during an afternoon conference call Dec. 12. "The problem we have, it's not going to be a short-term solution."

He added later, "This is an urgent problem in this state and across the country. We can't bury our heads in the sand."

The Ohio Department of Education released district-specific statistics on third graders' performance on the latest reading assessment Dec. 12. School districts were provided preliminary results earlier.

The assessments are connected to legislation signed into law last year by Gov. John Kasich that requires third graders to be held back if they are not able to read at an appropriate level.

The new law also calls for reading assessments of students starting in kindergarten, with increased identification and parental notification of deficiencies and targeted teaching intervention for struggling students.

Sasheen Phillips, senior executive director at ODE's Center for Curriculum and Assessment, said Dec. 12 that the guarantee is aimed at helping students learn to read at grade level, not necessarily to force them to repeat the third grade.

"What happens in real life if they aren't able to read?" Ross asked. "... What happens is the third grader that's socially promoted ends up falling further behind. Sometimes, when they're 16 and 17 years old or even 15 years old, they just don't show up one day. They just fade away, out of sight, out of mind, into a future that is bleak. That must stop."

Students have several opportunities to pass a test to pinpoint their reading levels. Two assessments are given during the regular school year, with another offered to affected students during the summer. Those who don't meet third grade reading proficiency are retained, with requirements for 90 minutes of reading instruction per school day.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, students can take fourth grade classes in other subjects or advance midyear to that grade if their reading scores improve.

Kasich has touted the new reading guarantee in speeches, saying it's important to ensure students are proficient in earlier grades before moving on to lessons in advanced ones.

"These figures clearly demonstrate the size of the problem and show why it was so important for Ohio to address this problem head on," Rob Nichols, spokesman for the governor, said of the results being released today. "By starting early -- several years out -- to identify those children who need some extra help, local schools can make sure their children are ready to move forward with the good reading skills they need for success, not just in fourth grade but in life."

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  • Get tablets or Chrome notebooks for the students starting in the first grade.  Everyone knows computers draw a child's interest and if I'm not mistaken, you inevitably have to read on one to move forward on many things.  The tablets or notebooks could have software that is geared towards reading and the device can provide immediate feedback to the student.  It is a no brainer and that is most likely the reason they are dragging their feet doing this.  Apparently only the younger teachers are aware of the potential benefits of technology and just a handful of the veteran teachers know the benefits.  What a shame that for such a small investment that greatness can be achived but they ignore it because of the simplicity.  Why is it so difficult for this district for the board to see this.  The Super is moving in that direction, but we need to move at break neck speed at this point if our students and children going to be ready for what is coming tomorrow.  Our nation ranked world wide is down to 20th or worse in the major areas of education.  The only explanation is that the old ways are still present and need eradicated.  The world is different.  The children are different.  The parents are different and the world around us is not one of a nation but one of global awareness that must be addressed now while we are sending our children to school and we have to provide the tools, materials, supplies and technology to the children of today and provide the teachers with the tools they need as a yournger set of educators who grew up using technology and we are keeping it from them.

    How naive is the public not to realize that technology is the key to our younger educators and more aware students?  Why are we not working at great strides to digitize our students and bring them into the world we currently live as adults?  Why did we let them get this far behind?

    Martin Fleming