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More than half Ohio third-graders meet requirements to advance a grade

Published: Fri, December 13, 2013 @ 12:04 a.m.

Staff report


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

A total of 56 percent of the youngsters were proficient or higher on the assessments, the full results of which will be unveiled today.

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 Thursday. “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 will release district-specific statistics on third-graders’ performance on the latest reading assessment today online at education.ohio.gov. School districts were provided preliminary results earlier, and Ross discussed the assessments during the state school board meeting earlier this week.

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 Thursday 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.


1iBuck(231 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

So, the grade-schools in Ohio don't have libraries (oh, that's right; they call them "media centers", now) or semi-monthly visits by a book-mobile? Parents in Ohio don't read to/with their children anymore? Parents don't take them to the local branch library every week? They don't buy books at local book-stores?

Or is it a more fundamental problem that they don't see academic achievement as valuable because we have so many people with university degrees (who can read, write and do calculus) who are unemployed?

Obligatory: Why, when I was a wee thing in Ohio, we used to drive 5 miles nearly every week-end to get to the closest branch library. The book-mobiles' visits to the school were a great treat. Before 8th grade I was hiking those 5 miles to the branch library or book-stores. My uncle used to take his shot-gun to school nearly every day and hunt for edibles along the way (though his brothers thought he was just trying to get out of some of the other chores).

It's time for the locals to step up the game. Neighbors could pitch in to take them to the library, take turns reading books and discussing what they'd read (to this day I have trouble resisting the urge to talk about the books I'm reading when folks give signs they aren't interested in the subject). If the book-mobile can't come to the school, schedule a twice per term "field-trip" to the library. Baseball cards, Pokimon, Fu-gi-oh, and Magic cards can help learn arithmetic. In 1st and 2nd grade, write fill-in-the-blank stories on the black- or white-boards to give them practice reading, writing and critical thinking (to figure out what word goes in each blank). No 21st century tech required.

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