Proposed Ohio House Bill Looks to Eliminate ‘Third Grade Reading Guarantee’

House Bill 497, sponsored by State Representatives Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon) would eliminate student retention under Ohio’s Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.

Ohio’s Third-Grade Reading Guarantee is a program utilized to identify students who are behind in reading from kindergarten through third grade. Since the 2013-14 school year, third graders have been required to obtain a 685 score or higher on a standardized reading test or be held back a grade.

If HB 497 becomes law it would change that retention policy. Students would still take the test, but if a student’s score is under the required standard, the parents and the child’s teacher would work together to determine if retention is best for that student.

“Current law states that a third grader must be retained if they do not receive the cut score on the third grade English Language Arts state assessment. House Bill 497 will allow parents to choose if their child should be retained, rather than allowing a test score to be the determining factor,” Manning said on social media.

According to Robinson’s office, this bill is not a state mandate. All of the other provisions included in the Third-Grade Guarantee will remain intact. However, this will open the door for schools and parents to decide what is best for each individual student outside of test scores.

“Let’s use the removal of retention mandates as a starting point for future bills that will improve early learning in our state. Ohio needs to fund and invest in proven ways to improve K-3 reading proficiency, such as universal preschool and all-day kindergarten. The more I learn about this issue, the more I know Ohio needs to turn the corner and work on improving reading proficiency,” Robinson said in a press release.

The Ohio Education Association – the state-level affiliate of the left-leaning National Education Association – strongly supports HB 497. The association affirms that high-stakes decisions about students should not be based on a test score.

But those in opposition to the bill, such as the nonpartisan coalition Ohio Excels, argue that Ohioans must act immediately to begin to get our students back on track and that this bill is not the way to help children.

“A permanent removal of the retention component is not warranted. Instead, we strongly believe we need to be more urgent, bold, and comprehensive in our approach to support. And, most important, we need to be willing to face this challenge directly, courageously, and more transparently. The data and rhetoric do not match up, and it is our students who pay the price,” Ohio Excels President Lisa Gray told the state senate this year.

The right-leaning education policy think tank Thomas B. Fordham Institute also opposes the legislation. In remarks delivered to the state senate in May, the institute’s vice president Chad Aldis said, “Ten years ago, Ohio lawmakers decided it would be better to intervene early than have students suffer the consequences later in life. The logic made sense then, and we believe that it’s still true today. Of course, retention – like any policy – isn’t a silver bullet. It must be paired with effective supports, and students need to continue receiving solid instruction in middle and high school. What the policy does, however, is slow the promotional train and give struggling readers more attention and opportunity to catch up. ”

HB 497 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 80-10 and the bipartisan bill has been sent to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

According to Robinson’s office, they hope to have this bill passed in the Senate before the end of the year.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Gayle Manning” by State Representative Gayle Manning. Photo “Phil Robinson” by State Representative Phil Robinson. Background Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.

 

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