Legislation would raise reading requirements for third graders
As a candidate, John Kasich often talked of a need to improve Ohio's schools and raise education standards.
Bolstering education is important, he said, to keep Ohio competitive in an era of global markets.
"We should bring the curriculum in line with international norms,” he said during an appearance at the City Club of Cleveland. "We're not competing with Indiana. We're competing with India."
In March the governor unveiled a series of initiatives addressing education. Among them was a proposal to hold back third-graders who are not reading at grade level, inspired by a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who cannot read at their grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school later.
Other proposals included revamping teacher evaluation metrics and overhauling the state"s school report card.
"The current standards in Ohio are outdated,” Stan Heffner, superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education, said in an interview then. "So something that was designed in the late 1980s is still driving the system. But there is a big disconnect because the measures are not adequate for what the world requires of graduates, whether they choose to go to college or get a job.”
Kasich's proposals have been working their way through the General Assembly.
Earlier this month the Ohio Senate approved a plan to hold back some third-graders not reading at grade level, though not as strict as what the governor proposed. The legislation drew some criticism from the Kasich, who warned some of the changes would weaken the initiative.
Kasich proposed retaining third-graders who are unable to read at grade level after two years of intensive intervention. The Senate lowered the reading level that could trigger a third-grader being held back, a change that would reduce the number of students affected.
Students would be tested in kindergarten, first, second and third grades under the plan. Those not not meeting grade-level reading standards could get extra help, which might include tutoring or summer school and monitoring. Students with disabilities and those who speak limited English would be exempt.
The bill also revamps teacher evaluation measures and sets up a task force to overhaul the state's school report card system. The task force will make recommendations by Oct. 1.
The new report card will assign school districts and public schools grades that range from A to F. The Kasich administration and lawmakers believe a letter-grade system would be easier to understand and promote improvement. The current system uses labels such as "academic watch” and "effective.”
Kasich originally proposed applying the letter grade report card to the current school year. But under the Senate-approved legislation, the new system wouldn't be implemented until next school year.
The legislation, Senate Bill 316, is pending in the House of Representatives.
The Senate-approved legislation doesn"t include everything the governor wanted and it could face other changes in the House. But it does represent an effort to raise standards, particularly in reading levels for third graders.
Based on the legislation, we can move the Kasich-O-Meter for this promise to In the Works.
The Plain Dealer via Cleveland.com, "Ohio Senate approves of changes to education reforms despite Gov. Kasich's objections,” May 9, 2012
The Plain Dealer via Cleveland.com, "Ohio 3rd graders who can"t read at grade level could be held back under Gov. John Kasich's plan,” March 14, 2012
John Kasich 2010, "John Kasich at The City Club of Cleveland," video of June 26, 2009, appearance posted to YouTube July 8, 2009