Low reading skills need to be addressed

December 19, 2013

Now is when the rubber meets the road in Ohio’s third-grade reading guarantee. Teachers and principals, especially in big-city and poor rural school districts, have about six months to bring the reading skills of thousands of struggling third-graders up to grade level or else those children will have to repeat the grade….

Bringing them all up to speed is a monumental challenge and daunting task, but it could be the start of an overdue era of progress where stagnation long has reigned.

A law passed last summer holds that any child who is found to be behind in reading at the beginning of third grade and still hasn’t caught up by the end of the year must be held back — a “guarantee” that, from next school year on, any child in the fourth grade will be reading at grade level.

Although the Ohio law and versions in other states have been controversial, it never has been meant as a punishment for poor readers. It is a mandatory time-out, a drastic step taken to get kids on track before the chance at a good education passes them by….

But now it’s official: Results of October’s statewide reading tests, released last week, show that more than a third of third-graders failed….

If Ohio parents, teachers and bureaucrats had addressed the problem with the current level of urgency long ago, it never would have grown so large.

— The Columbus Dispatch