The Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee

At this evening’s regularly scheduled Worthington Board of Education meeting, policy will be introduced to make Worthington compliant with Senate Bill 316 and what is commonly referred to as the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee.  Tonight at the Board of Education meeting Worthington administrator, George Joseph, will present the first reading of this policy.  A second reading, and a vote on the policy, will most likely be held on September 10th.  Regardless of the Board of Education members personal feelings on this policy, by law, Worthington must adopt such a policy before September 30th of this year.  Tonight district administrators Jennifer Wene and Jamie Lusher will present the implications of this legislation in Worthington.

As part of Senate Bill 316, legislation was created to ensure all Ohio students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade, this is commonly called the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee. Starting with students entering the third grade in the 2013-2014 school year, all students must demonstrate a certain level of competency in reading before advancing to the fourth grade. This level will start between ‘limited’ and ‘proficient,’ and will rise over time.  Almost all of the provisions of the new law take effect in the 2012-2013 school year.

The Worthington City Schools must have board approved policy and procedures to ensure teachers annually administer a reading diagnostic assessment to assess reading skills of all students in kindergarten to third grade. The Third Grade Guarantee simply requires that these diagnostic assessments are administered each year by September 30th.

The BOE has or must have a policy on retention and promotion that details the retention criteria in 2012-2013 and the new retention criteria for 2013-2014.  This policy will include:

  • Procedures for immediately notifying parents of students who score “not on track” on the reading diagnostic assessment.
  • Procedures for providing intensive reading remediation targeted at the student’s specific reading deficiencies immediately after identifying a student who needs a reading improvement and monitoring plan.
  • Procedures in place to have a reading improvement plan completed by the student’s teacher and parents within 60 days of identifying a student as “not on track.”

The Reading Improvement and Monitoring plan must include:

  • Identification of specific reading deficiency
  • Description of additional instructional services
  • Opportunities for the parent to be involved in the instruction services
  • A process to monitor reading progress
  • Specialized, research based reading curriculum
  • Statement that their child may be retained if they do not reach their required scores on the ELA assessment at the end of the third grade

Furthermore the law requires that all students on reading improvement and monitoring plans have teachers with reading endorsements on their teaching licenses or have passed a rigorous test of reading principles designated by the state board of education.  (Not all K-4 teachers in Worthington meet this requirement.)

Students retained by the third grade reading guarantee all receive at least 90 minutes of reading daily (Currently students spend 90 minutes in reading and writing, but not just reading)

All students retained by the third grade guarantee have a “high performing teacher” as determined by their third grade reading guarantee, but still demonstrate proficiency in other areas.  (How “high performing” is determined has yet to be flushed out.)

Worthington is in a strong position in reading instruction and assessment.  In April of 2006, the Worthington Board of Education adopted a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction, the Strategic Balanced Literacy Framework. Diagnostic & Formative assessments are a critical component of this model. All students Kindergarten – 3rd grade are assessed using one or more of the following diagnostic assessments:

  • MPG: Measures of Adequate Progress for the Primary Grades
  • DRA: Developmental Reading Assessment
  • KRA-L: Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy

The diagnostic assessments are in place and will be administered to all Worthington K-3 students by September 30th, 2012.

Worthington’s communication outreach to families will include:

  • Notice of the 3rd Grade Guarantee
  • Parent Reading Partnership Letter & Plan
  • Identifying Data
  • Intervention Plan
  • Progress Monitoring Plan
  • Plan for collaboration between the RTI team & home

In the short-term, Worthington is as ready as is possible.  However there are long-term implications that will need to be considered.  They include:

  • The allocation of reading intervention services may have to be adjusted based on demonstrated need.
  • Teacher assignments may need to change to ensure that properly licensed (reading endorsement) and designations are available in 3rd grade in all buildings:
  • Professional Development in reading must be provided for K-3 teachers.
  • K-3 teachers may need to obtain a Reading Endorsement.
  • Principals must ensure a valid and reliable implementation of the Strategic Balanced Literacy Framework.
  • Worthington may need an expansion of summer school reading intervention programs.
  • Resources may need to shift from other areas to fund reading improvement.

It’s hard to argue that learning to read by the end of third grade isn’t critical for a students future.  I believe legislators were well-intentioned with this law.  However, as with many laws that are passed, the ramifications of implementation will be significant, and only time will tell whether the results will be worth the cost both human and financial.

Worthington is as ready as a district can be at this point.

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