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Ohio Ups the Pressure to Read

Damian Reid

Thanks to a new Ohio "Third Grade Reading Guarantee" law, Nichole Smith's first grader hates reading, believes he's slow, and spends an additional 45 minutes a night on reading --in addition to his regular homework. 

Nichole says, "I signed at paper at conferences saying we'd do the [extra] work they were asking. This is turning into a chore for both of us . . . I feel like he's being pressured, and he's going to hate reading which hurts me. I don't know what to do at this point."

Nichole and her son are among many Ohio residents feeling new reading pressures. It's the result of Ohio's "Reading Guarantee" law that says all third graders (excluding students with disabilities or English Language Learners) must pass the state's reading test. If they don't, they'll repeat third grade.

Ohio superintendent and principal, George Wood, finds the state's logic for retention ill-conceived. He writes it's "simply not good educational practice."

In fact, research on retention shows that retention "can increase the likelihood that a student will drop out of school" (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006) and "the preponderance of evidence argues that students who repeat a grade are no better off, and are sometimes worse off, than if they had been promoted with their classmates." (Educational Leadership, 2008)

The new requirements mandate additional interventions for students who aren't performing reading. Unfortunately, the state has not provided funding to fulfill this requirement.

But, Governor John Kasich argues this law is good for students. He cites a study showing that students who don't read proficiently by third grade are more likely to drop out than their peers. (Right now only 1/3 of Ohio fourth graders read at grade level.)

I found a sample of Ohio's test on the Ohio.gov Department of Education. Go here to download a partial practice test. Do you think the test is even a good measure of a child's reading ability? 

All I know is that students like Nichole's son are feeling more pressure and increased stress.

Stress and learning don't go well together.

I'm concerned.

How about you?

Comment here.

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