Ohio bill ‘guarantees’ third-grade reading

Ohio will “guarantee” that third graders can read well before being promoted under an education reform bill that Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign. Poor readers could be held back for one or two years.

This year, more than 22 percent of the state’s third-graders tested at the lowest reading level — “limited” — in October and another 19 percent scored at the basic level.

The bill also makes way for greater use of technology across public education and creates state report cards for vocational and career programs that are tied to Ohio’s job needs. The schools will work in consultation with career-technical education groups to set standards for the report cards.

In addition, the bill begins the process of building a statewide birth-to-third-grade literacy education strategy, requires eye exams for special needs students, and adjusts training and retesting requirements for teachers who are deemed ineffective for two of the previous three years.

Kasich a first-term Republican, championed many of the bill’s reforms.

House Democratic Leader Armond Budish called the reading guarantee an “unfunded mandate that could actually harm children.”

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  1. Ummm, am I missing something here, the age of most third graders is between 7 and 8 (depending on when the age cutoff for entering first grade is). By this time, most kids should already be able to read (assuming their parent(s)/guardians are engaged in reading to their kids at least 3-4 times a week).

    These programs appear to attempt to make up for something the parental units should be taking care of themselves (or am I just completely nuts here, folks)?

    • Even good parents who read to their children may have dyslexic kids.

      It would be helpful if this bill mandated health insurance coverage of vision therapy when appropriate. I know many struggling readers whose problems turned out to be a visual tracking issue treatable by VT. Unfortunately, VT is very expensive ($150+ per session) and often is not covered by health insurance. A lot of families don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for VT out-of-pocket even if their kids would very much benefit from having VT.

      • VT is a scam. It’s been denounced by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Health insurance doesn’t cover it because it’s quackery.

        • Ophthalmologists denouncing optometrists is a turf war. It’s like when orthopedists used to denounce chiropractic care as quackery (and many still do). Or when obstetricians denounce nurse-midwives. The easiest way for MD’s to squelch the competition is to denounce them as quacks.

          I know several families who tried all sorts of dyslexia treatments and nothing worked until they gave VT a shot. Within 6 months to a year, their children were reading at or above grade level.

          • Most optometrists do not engage in VT and have in fact denounced the practice. Ophthalmologists and pediatricians have nothing to gain by pointing out all the research proving that VT is ineffective. It’s a huge money maker.

    • billybob says:

      I like the responses that place the full burden on the parents as the problem. If the parents hold all the responsibility why are we paying the kind of wages and benefits we do for teachers we don’t need. Lets get real. It is three parties. Parents, Kids and Teachers. All three need to hold responsibility. That means teachers need to be held accountable also. If kids are being held back because they can’t read at level, that means the teacher played a factor in the failure and it should come with consequences for them as well.

  2. It’s a start, but there are still questions about what will really happen. Will retained kids get targeted help in problem areas or just more of the same? Did they originally use homogeneous grouping and will that be used after retention? What about reading curriculum? Do they use phonics and are the teachers really knowledgeable? Once kids are fluent decoders (and before, given orally), do they get the kind of rich content that will boost background knowledge, and therefore reading comprehension, or do teachers spend lots of time on “strategies”? Is there anything about requiring prospective teachers to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of phonics before entering classrooms? The same issues also exist for math, and my experience has been that ES teachers are likely to be even weaker in math than in phonics and grammar.

    • The same issues also exist for math, and my experience has been that ES teachers are likely to be even weaker in math than in phonics and grammar.

      Proficiency with the multiplication tables and long division should be a prerequisite for admission to ed school.  These basics should have been mastered to the point of effortlessness by the time any of them set foot in front of a classroom.

      • Please, add fractions and manipulation of same, along with the relationships among fractions, decimals and percentages – WITHOUT A CALCULATOR, USE OF WHICH SHOULD BE FORBIDDEN IN ES AND MS. I’m getting really tired of deli clerks telling me they can’t weigh 1/3 or 2/3 of a pound on a digital scale. Enough statistics to be aware of the correlation-vs-causation issue that regularly bedevils the ed world and leads them down another dead-end road, searching for the magical solution, would also be nice. All of the above should have been mastered before HS entry, let alone college.

        There’s a really serious problem in el ed if ed schools cannot ensure mastery of phonics, grammar, composition, fundamental knowledge across the disciplines (including art and music history/appreciation), and all math through algebra 1 – in four years, when kids should have that before they enter college. College should be for deepening and refining that knowledge and the most effective and EFFICIENT ways to teach it, with appropriate strategies for common LDs. Removal of large quanties of edubabble, BS and PC “diversity” would leave plenty of room in the curriculum.

  3. So instead of getting 15 year old ninth graders who can’t read, I’ll be getting 16 or 17 year old ninth graders who can read a little better than before? ; Third grade is too late; get the problem solved with the best teachers available as early as possible (no later than 1st grade) and keep them with their age peers.

  4. Utterly ridiculous. Kasich is a complete moron, who knows nothing about education and whose real goal is to destroy collective bargaining.

    The issues with 3rd graders who can’t read have little to do with bad teaching. Three major areas inhibit reading growth, two of which are much bigger problems than teachers can handle: health, limited access to books and poor reading programs, like phonics and basal readers.

    Exhaustive research by luminaries like Stephen Krashen, David Berliner and Susan Ohanian clearly states that schools could solve the literacy problem by simply increasing funding to health and nutrition programs and by improving school libraries.

    Teachers need to say No to basal readers and put books into kids’ hands. Feed them, keep them healthy and let them read. Literacy will improve exponentially.

  5. Momof4,

    It seems as if Deli Scales will need to display fractional units in addition to decimal units. If a Deli Clerk doesn’t know how much 3/4’s of a pound is (or a quarter of a kilogram is), they really shouldn’t have their job in the first place.

    It’s pathetic that I have to do the clerk’s job for them, after all, they’re getting paid for it, not me…

    As for luminaries like Susan Ohanian, I’ve read some of her posts, esp. regarding high school exit exams…she’s a piece of work, that one…

    I’ve got an idea, why don’t we just issue high school diplomas at the end of middle school (would save the taxpayers a freaking bundle of money)…:)

  6. Colorado had a law like that, but my impression was it was widely evaded (I haven’t lived there for several years) but looking it up, I discovered that it was repealed and replaced this year:
    H.B.1238 Colorado Early Literacy Act

    Category: State Updates

    HB12-1238 – The READ Act – was an important moment for Colorado’s early literacy movement. This legislation helps ensure early identification of children with significant reading deficiencies as early as kindergarten and in partnership with parents, provides these children with the targeted interventions and supports they need to read proficiently by third grade. This bill was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on May 17, 2012.

    (P.S. Krashen, Berliner and Ohanian? Good grief, what a list. Has any of them ever been right about anything?)

    • Not sure if you’re a teacher, but I am. I’ve taught ELA for 20 years, and I can tell you from experience that Stephen Krashen is right about everything (he has the credentials to prove it).

      I’ve taught using worksheets, textbooks and basal readers. I’ve also taught using the sort of intense independent reading program endorsed by Krashen, Nancie Atwell and Donalyn Miller, to name a few. Again, my vast experience tells me that the latter method produces avid, literate readers. The former only makes kids hate books and struggle in school forever.

      • Mark Roulo says:

        “I can tell you from experience that Stephen Krashen is right about everything (he has the credentials to prove it)”

        Credentials don’t prove that someone is right.

        • How about 40 years of studying one subject? Maybe it can’t prove he’s right, but it certainly makes him more credible than anyone posting here, including yours truly. Wouldn’t you agree?

          • Like Obama studying law? No, I wouldn’t agree. 40 years of study colored by ideology doesn’t amount to much–and in fact may be quite damaging. Not saying that’s the case here, just negating your argument. All you’ve done is put yourself in the category of ideologue.

          • Mark Roulo says:

            “How about 40 years of studying one subject? Maybe it can’t prove he’s right, but it certainly makes him more credible than anyone posting here, including yours truly. Wouldn’t you agree?”

            For a subject as politically charged as education? No, I would not agree. I’ve worked with academia too much (in a technical field) to assume truth, honesty, or competence.

            What *data* have these folks gathered? Was the study/experiment well constructed? Was there a control group? Has anyone else been able to replicate the results?

            Without this, I really don’t care how many years of study someone has. I’ve seen too many “dueling experts” and actually read papers myself. Sadly, these folks often don’t know what they are doing.

          • Mark, my work is not just research. I’ve done it in the classroom — not in a technical field. I’ve seen all kinds of assessment results, based on a wide array of teaching methods.

            What I’ve found unequivocally, is that a well-crafted independent reading program teaches kids to read. Eye tests and retention, as Kasich contends, have nothing to do with literacy.

          • Mark Roulo says:

            I believe that you are getting the results you claim in your classroom.

            And I believe that Siegfried Engelmann gets the results he claims, too.

            Now what?

          • Good question, Mark, and a good point. In the long run, I suppose we all have to do what’s best for kids, in our opinions. From my point of view, I’ve seen DI, and I think it is complete garbage. Others disagree.

            I’ve seen independent reading, writers workshop and collaboration, and I know these are successful methods that work for me and my students.

            To each his own, I suppose.

        • Norm, based on your argument, I’m not sure why we research anything. I suppose anyone trying to cure cancer with research is nothing more than an ideologue. Was Jonas Salk an ideologue? Was Einstein? Their research was certainly colored by ideology.

          Incidentally, as I stated earlier, my work is based not only on research but on practical experience. I use the methods espoused by Krashen, and my students far outperform their peers, who use mainstream methods, like basal readers, on every evaluation method we use, including standardized tests.

          Also, if putting books in kids’ hands and getting them to love reading makes me an ideologue, then so be it.

          • Mark Roulo says:

            Salk and Einstein either conducted experiments that could (and have!) been replicated, *or* proposed models that led to experiments that could be replicated.

            Right now drug research is running into a bit of a problem in that many many papers have results that *cannot* be reproduced. This WSJ article gives an overview:


            The education research is (sadly) often as unreproduced (or unreproduceable).

            This *IS* a problem in the drug research field. And it is a problem in the education research field, too.

          • Mark Barnes, Einstein and Salk had one thing you don’t have and don’t seem interested in – a falsifiable hypothesis. You seem to be puzzled at the concept which is understandable since there’s no premium put on proving what you contend in the field of education.

            If you’re certain you’re right and have impressive credentials and some sketchy approximation of research that, outside the field of education would get you nothing but a laugh, then you’re good to go. No need for replication or independent verification because that sort of thing is only important when the results have to have some connection with reality. That sort of dreary requirement’s hardly necessary in education where the appeal is the appearance of progress without the reality. Perhaps to the exclusion of the reality.

            Oh and Mark Roulo? You’re wrong and demonstrably so.

            Edu-crap, the endless river of educational nostrums that issue from schools of education, sometimes to take root and waste resources other times to disappear without a trace, are the proof you’re wrong.

            As public education’s currently constituted research that wouldn’t pass muster among alchemists is both academically rewarding and commercially successful. The fact that it’s also, always educationally valueless is no impediment to its dissemination. Within the context of the public education system Mark Barnes is right and you’re wrong. It’s only when viewed from without that you become right and Mark Barnes wrong.

          • Allen, your points are so convoluted that I’m not even sure how to respond. If your opinion of education is so jaded, why do read this education blog?

            Your awkwardly-written, pessimistic theories might be more appreciated on a political blog.

            Of course, since I live the world of “edu-crap,” what do I know?

  7. Yea! Look at me another do nothing educational governor! Way to go Kasich, put it to those nasty teachers, schools and teacher unions! That it’ll show ’em. By the way, good luck in paying for all of that, I’m not worried, I’ll be somewhere else by the time the pittance in the bill is gone.
    Another Ohio governor who has legislated poor educational practice. Thanks a lot.