Reality Check: Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The new school year is now underway across much of Ohio.

For third graders, this year marks the official end to an unofficial practice of "social promotion," or advancing students who can't read at grade level to keep them with other students their own age.

The change comes courtesy of Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which is a retention policy that puts a third grader's reading skills to the test. If a student not classified under special circumstances fails the exam, they are held back next fall.

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the controversial legislation into law and said, "What we're saying is, if you're in the third grade and you can't read--if we push you to the 4th grade, it's like pushing someone to the deep water who doesn't know how to swim."

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and former school teacher Glenda Ritz is one of several educators who oppose high-stakes testing.

Regarding Indiana's version of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, known as IREAD-3, Ritz said, "I don't think I have any business keeping a retention list at the State of Indiana and forcing those children to take a third grade test when, in actuality, the school corporation could move that child on to fourth grade."

It's estimated that as many as 10,000 students could fail the exam state-wide next spring. This has consequences, not only for parents, teachers, and students, but also for school districts forced to pay for tutors and summer school.

And then there's the issue of lost taxpayer dollars.

We examined the latest figures made available through the Ohio Department of Education from three local counties. In Clermont County, more than $4,600 is spent in the classroom per student per year.

In Warren County, it's over $5,300 and in Hamilton County, it's more than $6,300.

The numbers could add up to tens of millions of dollars a year for a state that's made the Third Grade Reading Guarantee the law of the land.

And that is Reality Check.


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