CINCINNATI — An Ohio House Bill looks to end the state's 'Third Grade Reading Guarantee,' which requires third graders to pass a reading test in order to move on to the fourth grade.
Some who support this bill said the law had unintended consequences.
"The problem with the whole law is that it doesn't work, it takes decision making, important decision-making responsibilities out of the hands of parents and educators," said Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association. "It really puts all of the focus on a single test score, when what we really need with students is a well-rounded approach."
HB 497eliminates "retention," or requiring schools to hold a child back from passing third grade, if the student does not score a 685 or better on the English Language Arts test. DiMauro feels the focus should not be on the test, but on early intervention, by making sure every student is getting up to speed on reading. This bill passed the Ohio House 82-10.
"It's stupid I mean come on let's stand up for something, you know what it is, they've cow-towed to the teachers union and to parents who don't want to do their job," said Representative Tom Brinkman, R-Cincinnati.
Brinkman is one of the ten house members who voted against the bill and feels eliminating this requirement will lower education standards across Ohio and will hurt children down the road. It's coming at a time when millions of children missed out on crucial classroom time during the pandemic.
"If they are not being able to meet the third grade guarantee they shouldn't move on. They need to learn it's tough love, it's being the adult in the room, it's not just punting because we want to be nice," said Brinkman.
Cincinnati educator Gary Favors feels these tests don't tell the whole story behind every child and what they need to succeed.
"There should be a variety of metrics of what we need to measure academic performance with our kids," said Gary Favors, who's been an educator in Cincinnati for 25 years.
Favors recalled a time when one of his third-grade students was struggling with reading and was showing up to class late on a weekly basis. He wanted to find out what was going on, so he called the student's mother.
"She told me he was homeless, and my heart sunk because many of those families deal with those socio-economic things, I felt like 'wow he's smart, he's bright but he has all of these other factors from living from hotel to hotel,'" said Favors.
The state halted the reading requirement during the pandemic, but schools across Ohio are once again implementing this test before the academic year is over. HB 497 is currently in an Ohio Senate committee, and at last check, was not scheduled for a reading during the week of December 4th.