Third Grade Reading Guarantee coming in 2013-14 for Ohio
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
During the August 13 Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting, district Director of Academic Achievement Angie Pollock briefly discussed the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, part of Senate Bill 316.
The Third Grade Reading Guarantee mandates that beginning in the 2013–14 school year school districts across Ohio cannot promote students who score below a certain level on the state reading test; and students who are held back must receive extra help with their reading skills.
Why Senate Bill 316?
A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and in life; and that ensuring that all students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade helps narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.
Other studies show that reading below proficiency levels at the elementary school age accompanies a host of other problems that develop later in a young persons life – higher high school dropout rates, higher unemployment, more teenage pregnancy, substance abuse problems, and criminal activity; and every student who does not complete high school costs society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity.
“All students entering the third grade must demonstrate between a Limited and a Proficient level of reading competency before advancing to the Fourth Grade, and this level will rise over time,” Pollock said in an interview last week. “An English language arts diagnostic assessment must be given by September 30 of each year for students in Kindergarten through Grade Three starting in the 2012–13 school year. If the diagnostic assessment shows that a student is not on track to be reading at grade level by the end of the year, schools must notify the parents in writing that the school has identified a reading deficiency in their child.”
Pollock said letters would provide a description of current services provided to the student, and also state that unless the student attains the appropriate level of reading competency by the end of Grade Three, the student will be retained, a.k.a. held back a year.
Pollock also noted that SB 316 mandates that for each student shown to be not on track, schools must begin reading intervention immediately using research-based reading strategies targeted at the students identified reading deficiencies; provide a teacher who has either passed the reading instruction test or has a reading endorsement on his or her teachers license; and develop a reading improvement and monitoring plan within 60 days of learning of the student’s reading deficiency.
“The legislative requirements for retention in the Third Grade include some exceptions,” Pollock said. “Limited English proficient students who have been enrolled in U.S. schools for less than two full school years and have had less than two years of instruction in an English as a Second Language program; and special education students whose IEP’s specifically exempt them under the third-grade guarantee.”
Pollock said students who would not be held back also includes those who demonstrate reading competency on an alternate reading assessment approved by the ODE (a list of approved assessments has not been issued yet); and a student who has received intensive remediation for two years and was previously retained in Kindergarten through Grade 3 (a student that advances because of this exception must continue to receive intensive reading instruction in the Fourth Grade, which requires an altered instructional day to accommodate reading interventions).
“The actual cutoff score has not yet been set by the state,” Pollock said. “The current passing score is 400. Our typical third-grader is reading in the 420’s, the high Proficient range; beyond that is Accelerated and Advanced.
“Students were not held back this year, but the state superintendent must set the passing score by December 31,” Pollock continued. “If this score were set at 400 we would currently hold 24 students back; if it’s set at 390 we would hold eight students back.”
Pollock said that SB 316 was put in place for school districts that do not assess reading skills as vigorously as Big Walnut and fail to intervene when students fall behind in reading assessment scores.
“We already give students reading intervention; we have reading tutors in all of our buildings,” Pollock said. “We start with K-8 diagnostics — reading, math and writing — and put students in reading intervention groups as needed. But now the stakes are higher; we want to make sure we do more; we don’t want to hold any child back. Here at Big Walnut we’ve always wanted to make sure we’re looking at the whole child and identifying any child not on track.”
Pollock said students not reading on track would have 90 minutes of intervention during the day, in addition to doing their other Third Grade work. Intervention includes small group instruction; it may also include an extended day or even an outside school time.
“The bottom line is, if students are not reading at a proficient level we are already giving interventions in the classroom and in pullout groups,” Pollock said. “We look at all of our children as individuals, and are already providing interventions to hit that cut score in advance.”
Pollock said if a child is not reading at grade level after this year’s first reading assessment, sometime in September parents will receive a notice from the school that their child is not at level and telling them about an intervention; and if their child is not reading at grade level by the end of the year they will be retained.
“We really want to work with our families to make sure their children are reading at grade level and learning,” Pollock said. “It helps if parents read with their children at home, and talk to them about reading. It’s also important that parents contact us if they have any concerns about their child’s reading or other learning problems so that interventions can be addressed.”
Pollock said if parents have specific questions about their child’s reading assessment score or a specific child’s intervention plan they should contact their child’s building principal or the building’s literacy facilitator.
“If parents have questions about the Third Grade Reading Guarantee not related to a specific child I’ll be happy to field those questions,” Pollock said.
Pollock also said the Ohio Department of Education website contains added information about the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Go to < ode.state.oh.us > and put Third Grade Reading Guarantee in the website search box.
To speak to Angie Pollock call the Big Walnut Local School District Administration Office at 740–965-3010.