It is not shocking that children who do not graduate from high school face added obstacles and problems later in life. They will find it much harder to be successful in a career, will be unable to attend college, are often in greater need of financial assistance and are an increased risk of being incarcerated.

Now consider the fact that children who cannot read by the third grade are much less likely to graduate high school. Again, this is not altogether surprising, but it does shine light on the idea that the education of our youth is not just something we should focus on once they reach junior high or high school. A child’s level of achievement later in life can be linked to their abilities early in their educational careers.

The legislature recently passed and Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 316, which was one of 10 bills included in the Mid-Biennial Review, or MBR. SB 316 focused almost exclusively on K-12 education and included reforms that make it easier to track a student’s success through school, namely their ability to read.

By now, you might have already heard about what is being called the “third grade reading guarantee.” The governor was very adamant about this provision when he proposed the MBR earlier this year, and it has generated attention from the media and for people throughout the state. The goal of this program is to strengthen the literacy rate among Ohio’s elementary students.

Starting in the next school year, schools will be required to assess reading abilities in Grades K, one, two and three. If a reading deficiency is identified, remedial services must be provided to help the child, and there is the possibility that the student will be held back. However, it is important to point out that this will be a gradual process. Assessments will be made at each grade level, with the goal of assessing third grade reading retention.

Other states that have implemented programs like this have seen great success in children’s reading abilities. Being able to read enhances opportunities so then all children can reach their goals later in life. Although it is often taken for granted, not having the skill to read can result in the loss of opportunities, many of which are never overcome.

As the chairman of the House Education Committee, I heard very powerful testimony and debate on this bill. Someone giving testimony on the bill pointed out that students “learn to read in K-3, and they read to learn from fourth grade on.” To me, this means that reading gets more difficult—but also more important—the older you get.

We owe it to future generations to ensure they are equipped with the critical gift of superb reading skills.


Anonymous said...

As a goal laudable but just another unfunded mandate.

Post a Comment