Ohio

Eye on Education

Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee Could Allow Students Who Skip Tests to Be Promoted

Judy Baxter / Flickr

Updated Oct. 11, 5 p.m.

The idea behind a new state law called the Third Grade Reading Guarantee was supposed to be simple: All third graders — except for those with disabilities or who are still learning English — must pass the state third grade reading test in order to advance to fourth grade.

But as written, the law allows third graders who don’t actually take the reading test to be promoted anyway, whether or not they can actually read.

That means that parents who are concerned that their third graders won’t pass the test — or parents who oppose “high-stakes” testing — could keep their children home on test days and skirt the law’s intent.

In some states with third grade reading guarantees, that’s just what has happened. Parents have responded by opting out of having their children taking state tests. Our partners at StateImpact Indiana report that on test days, those children just don’t show up to school:

“They’re spending a month to two months of my daughter’s time where she’s bored to tears because she’s not learning anything — she’s at a gifted school,” [Indianapolis parent Merry Juerling] says. “It makes no logical sense. It wastes my child’s education time. It wastes the teachers’ time. It wastes the school’s time in tracking and preparing for this.”

Juerling and other Indiana parents also see pulling their children from the exams as a way to express concerns about the pressures they say state testing puts on schools, StateImpact Indiana reports.

State lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Education apparently hadn’t noticed that Ohio’s new law seems to allow third graders who flat-out don’t take the third grade reading test to be promoted.

Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton says the department’s legal team began looking at the question today:

Since we have nearly two years until we need to address your question about students who have no score, it has not been addressed yet.

State law already includes exceptions that allow children with disabilities or who are still learning English to be promoted to fourth grade if they don’t pass the test.

Charlton says the department will now start to consider developing new rules about whether other third graders who don’t take the third grade reading test would be promoted to fourth grade or held back to repeat third grade.

Buckeye Association of School Administrators Governmental Relations Director Tom Ash says parents who purposely keep their children out of school on test day could potentially be prosecuted under truancy laws.

And Ash says schools will “pretty much to insist” on third graders taking their state tests. That’s because students who are enrolled in a school but not tested count against the school when the state calculates school and school district report card grades.

That’s true for students in all grades and subjects, not just third grade reading.

What the Law Actually Says

3313.608 [Effective 9/24/2012] Fourth grade reading capability

(A)(1) Beginning with students who enter third grade in the school year that starts July 1, 2009, and until June 30, 2013, for any student who attains a score in the range designated under division (A)(3) of section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code on the assessment prescribed under that section to measure skill in English language arts expected at the end of third grade, each school district, in accordance with the policy adopted under section 3313.609 of the Revised Code, shall do one of the following:

(a) Promote the student to fourth grade if the student’s principal and reading teacher agree that other evaluations of the student’s skill in reading demonstrate that the student is academically prepared to be promoted to fourth grade;

(b) Promote the student to fourth grade but provide the student with intensive intervention services in fourth grade;

(c) Retain the student in third grade.

(2) Beginning with students who enter third grade in the 2013-2014 school year, no school district shall promote to fourth grade any student who attains a score in the range designated under division (A)(3) of section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code on the assessment prescribed under that section to measure skill in English language arts expected at the end of third grade, unless one of the following applies:

(a) The student is a limited English proficient student who has been enrolled in United States schools for less than two full school years and has had less than two years of instruction in an English as a second language program.

(b) The student is a child with a disability entitled to special education and related services under Chapter 3323. of the Revised Code and the student’s individualized education program exempts the student from retention under this division.

(c) The student demonstrates an acceptable level of performance on an alternative standardized reading assessment as determined by the department of education.

(d) All of the following apply:

(i) The student is a child with a disability entitled to special education and related services under Chapter 3323. of the Revised Code.

(ii) The student has taken the third grade English language arts achievement assessment prescribed under section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code.

(iii) The student’s individualized education program or plan under section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” 87 Stat. 355, 29 U.S.C. 794, as amended, shows that the student has received intensive remediation in reading for two school years but still demonstrates a deficiency in reading.

(iv) The student previously was retained in any of grades kindergarten to three.

(e)(i) The student received intensive remediation for reading for two school years but still demonstrates a deficiency in reading and was previously retained in any of grades kindergarten to three.

(i) The student is a child with a disability entitled to special education and related services under Chapter 3323. of the Revised Code.

(ii) The student has taken the third grade English language arts achievement assessment prescribed under section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code.

(iii) The student’s individualized education program or plan under section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” 87 Stat. 355, 29 U.S.C. 794, as amended, shows that the student has received intensive remediation in reading for two school years but still demonstrates a deficiency in reading.

(iv) The student previously was retained in any of grades kindergarten to three.

(e)(i) The student received intensive remediation for reading for two school years but still demonstrates a deficiency in reading and was previously retained in any of grades kindergarten to three.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/GuerinGreen Guerin Green

    Wow. This reporter seriously needs to review the principal Supreme Court cases on the rights of parents to direct the education of their children. That would seem to apply doubly to “Gov’t Relations Director Tom Ash.”

  • Momma Bear

    Do you have any updates to this story? Is an absentee tester still an option for those who would like to opt out? Parents who obtain opt out waivers from their school district (for the purposes of opting out of other testing models, i.e., OAA’s, MAP) have been told that the waiver will not be applicable to the Ohio 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and that this will be the one and only REQUIRED test; regardless of whether or not you sign an opt out waiver. ODE has said that absentees will be required to take the test upon returning.

    We are desperately seeking to see if this loophole is still a viable option. Has this been changed? Is the ODE informing us correctly on the rules and regulations around opting out; is the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee the exception to the waiver?

    • M_Bloom

      Momma Bear: Could you get in touch w. me at 216-202-0665 or molly.bloom@ideastream.org? Curious to hear what exactly you’re being told and by whom.

  • Patty

    How can I get a copy of this test?

  • nancy

    why does a reading test the only thing that decides on whether a child should be promoted to fourth grade,even thought they got excellent grades all year? it sure sound unfair to me. and if they are held back a year, how does that effect them,when they thought they did so well all year?

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