Even as local third-graders wrapped up their state reading tests last week, educators say some parts of the new initiative remain confusing.
The Third Grade Guarantee in full effect for the 2013-14 school year is part of the educational package put forward by Gov. John Kasich in the 2012 budget. The program is aimed at identifying kids who are falling behind in reading from kindergarten to third grade.
Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee says that starting with students entering third grade this year, schools cannot promote to fourth grade students who score below a certain level on the state reading test. That level is slightly below the actual passing score on the state reading test, the Ohio Achievement Assessment.
Genoa’s 95 third graders took the 2 ½ - hour computer test this past week. Results are expected back in three weeks.
Daily reading intervention classes will be offered for those who don’t pass the test, Dennis Mock , superintendent, said. Then all third graders will take the test again in the spring.
Parents will get some insight on the reading initiative at a PTO meeting this week led in part by Genoa Elementary Principal Brenda Murphy, Mock said.
Guy Parmigian, superintendent of Benton-Carroll-Salem schools, says his district administrators are still searching for answers regarding the test results. He said district officials interpret the law to mean students will have to re-do third grade reading but can continue on to fourth grade with other students. Although some legislators he has spoken to maintain the kids cannot move on to the fourth grade at all if they don’t pass the test.
The whole concept itself poses problems in B-C-S schools following the district’s restructuring to cut costs. The changes included closing three elementary schools. As a result, third graders are in the elementary building on the east side of Oak Harbor. Fourth graders go to classes at the middle school in the center of town.
The third grade reading guarantee is similar to one created at the fourth grade level about 10 to 15 years ago. The program grew troubled as school districts struggled with the retention issues and were forced to hire more teachers as a result, Mock said. It eventually fell by the wayside.
Mock doesn’t see that happening this time around.
“I don’t think this one is going away. They threw it up against the wall and I think it’s going to stick this time,” Mock said.
Still, Parmigian and his administrators say they are still on the search for clarification regarding the “burdensome” law in both the state legislature and Ohio Department of Education.
“I think it’s well intended – making sure kids are able to read at the third grade level. But it takes away local control,” Parmigian said. “We know our kids. Everyone is different. We work on the best situation to help those kids.”