“It’s a policy that, rather than encouraging collaboration between educators and families, it’s one of those things that drives a wedge,” DiMauro said.
The politics aren’t working either, said Ohio school board member Christina Collins. She cited data from the Ohio Department of Education showing that students who were held back from fourth grade and made it through a full year of third grade still scored low on literacy tests. when they are picked up. Only 14% of those students were fluent in reading after repeating third grade, Collins said. Test scores continued to decline until eighth grade, when only three percent of students who had been retained were proficient, Collins said.
Competent is the minimum score on the reading test where students can progress from third to fourth grade. There are two scores above competent and two scores below competent.
“As a result, students who struggled with reading holding them back in third grade didn’t work out,” Collins said. “In the business world, such a minimal return on investment would be called a failure.”
Collins sponsored an Ohio school board resolution supporting HB 497 and said she expects the school board to hear it at its Tuesday-Wednesday meeting.
But the Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, argued in a new journal the third-grade reading guarantee requiring students to stay back a year if they don’t pass their tests is working, indicating that state exam data shows third-grade reading scores were on the rise before the pandemic .
Aaron Churchill, Ohio research director for the Fordham Institute and author of the report, said that during the pandemic, when the state relaxed the law, most schools promoted students who, under the law, should have been retained. It’s unclear whether those students received appropriate support, he said.
“If you really have very serious reading impairments at the end of third grade, something has to be done,” Churchill said.
State Rep. Gayle Manning, a Republican from North Ridgeville and one of HB 497’s sponsors, said she thinks there will be changes to Ohio’s ballots as well, though those changes won’t have not yet been ironed out. The third-grade reading guarantee is a key component of the overall score that schools get on their report cards.
The invoice is co-sponsored by State Representative Phil Robinson, a Democrat from Cleveland.