Many in Ohio fail third-grade reading test

Superintendent: "My heart bleeds for those third-graders, but we have to think long term."
MCT Regional News
Dec 11, 2013

More than a third of Ohio third-graders failed the state reading test this fall, putting them at risk of being held back if they don’t improve their scores.

State Superintendent Richard Ross told members of the Ohio Board of Education yesterday that the students will get two more chances to take the test — in the spring and again next summer.

“My heart bleeds for those third-graders, but we have to think long term,” Ross said.

The alternative to retention — passing along illiterate students who get frustrated because they can’t read — is worse, he said.

“It’s almost predictable that there will be issues with attendance, discipline and dropout.”

Under a new state law known as the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students failing the reading test must be retained starting this school year, with some exceptions for youngsters with special needs, who speak English as a second language, or who pass an alternative exam.

Students ready for other fourth-grade subjects will be allowed to take those classes while getting 90 minutes of reading instruction per day. They also will be able to move up to fourth grade at midyear if they are deemed ready.

The Ohio Department of Education will release district-by-district reading test results on Friday. School districts got their preliminary scores last week.

In a preview at yesterday’s board of education meeting in Columbus, Ross said that statewide, two-thirds of students scored proficient or higher on the October exam, slightly lower than in last year’s fall test.

Of the third who failed, most attend one of Ohio’s urban school districts, including Columbus. He did not provide detailed results. The Dispatch reported Sunday that 58 percent of Columbus students who took the third-grade reading test did not pass.

Mike Collins, a state school-board member from Columbus, said districts such as Columbus are working hard to improve student reading.

“The numbers are out. They took the fall test, and they may not like the numbers but they know where they are at,” Collins said.

“I have great hopes that what we saw in this preliminary is not what we’re going to see in April or May. Not that I think it’s going to be jolly, but I’m hopeful that it’s not as severe as what we’re seeing right now.”

Ross agreed, saying he expects the number of students subject to retention to decrease after they have a chance to re-take the test. In previous years, the passage rate has increased by as much as 18 to 20 percent after the May examination. The summer test will be given next year for the first time; it was included in the law to give students who attend summer school another shot at passing.

“Literacy is the keystone of everything we need to accomplish,” Ross said, noting that Ohio’s reading scores have been relatively flat in recent years.

“As I talk to superintendents, while we may disagree on many things, they understand the urgency.”


By Catherine Candisky - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services



Ok...all of you Reflector trolls are on here all day long complaining/commenting about elected officials, the judicial system, gossiping about your neighbors and the public school system. You all have your opinions and your input into how people should do their jobs, or find jobs, but here is an article regarding third graders and how they are failing reading tests, for which no one has commented about their disgust for these children, who should be reading and are failing. They might be held back because of parents who don't care, or their parents are on here showing their lack of concern, education and literacy.

Maybe instead of sitting at your computers all day just waiting to see what your other troll friends are posting or what the next article (which, by the way, should probably be spell-checked before posting) will be, so you can whine and moan about, why not step away from your computers/phones and volunteer? Be productive members of society. You would be amazed at how gratifying it is and how much better you will feel about yourselves, and what a difference you could make in your community. Your tax dollars pay for the teachers, so why not take an interest in what they are teaching and what these children are learning. You're all so smart and have the answers...take that knowledge and do something positive with it. I see posts on here from adults whose grammar and spelling are atrocious...mentor those adults.


youvegottobekiddingme - I think your obvious anger is misdirected. Most of those who post here are the results of the local education system. Many of us are extremely angry about how the schools spend our tax money and the results that are obtained. Some of us are retired and volunteer our time to many worthwhile activities. You shouldn't make assumptions when you post - try to be factual.


Your comment is well taken.

swiss family

First of all, I would like to Thank whomever is in charge of deciding what stories get posted on the web site, for the "trolls" to discuss.I feel like by their wisdom and design, we are privileged enough to get the content of not 1 but 2 Ohio newspapers for the price of 1.Personally, I do not know anyone in the Columbus area, and thought that I had no interest in reading a tremendous amount of stories from that area, when there should be so much local news to write about. But, since there has been so many stories from there , I have actually become familiar with those people that are written about, so , if at all possible, could the "big shots" up at the Reflector start including wedding and engagement announcements from that area, along with the Obituaries too???Please make sure though, that you charge them a lot of money for the Obits, just like it is your policy for your neighbors and friends locally.I think it is kind of dangerous to keep focusing your readers attention to the fact that even you, the people who make the paper, can't find enough worthwhile local stories to share on the website, from your own newspaper, to ask the readers to comment on... Don't get me wrong, I like to include stories from outside of our 4 corners, but to repeatedly post them from any one area, is inane.

Now, with that out of the way, let me give my comment about the story at hand..I hope that it does NOT come as much of a surprise to see that locally, our 3rd graders are not reading on a third grade level. I also hope that it doesn't come as a surprise that some of our 12th graders can not read or write at 3rd grade levels locally as well.So, why are these kids being moved from grade to grade? I feel the answer is simple, and compounded .

It is simple, because it looks bad to the "board" and the Higher ups if they see any teacher with a high "fail" turnout. Somehow, it looks like the teacher is not doing their job, so to save their jobs, and their standing, they pass the seemingly illiterate student along, so they become someone else's problem, so they keep their jobs, and hang on to their benefits.In addition to that problem, it is compounded because look at your school calendar that you were mailed. lets see, they just had nearly a week off for Thanksgiving vacation, and in a week or more they will have another 2 weeks off, just to come back for a few months only to have a spring break, and time off as well for Easter....All in all, in Norwalk, a teacher is in school ,for 184 days a year... so lets see... 365 days in a year.. divide by say, 2 =182.5... So our never ending complaining teachers, who will cry and carry on about how much time they put in, are not telling you that they are working a day and a half more than a half year...Now, lets do the math on the "normal" worker... 365 days, 2 weekend days off each week times 52 weeks-110.. add to that 10 vacation days ... 2 weeks , 5 days a week x 2... and then go ahead and figure in about 10 holidays ... and the normal worker is working 235 days compared to the teachers 184 days a year. , it seems obvious that the kids and the teachers are NOT spending enough time in school,and the teachers are being evaluated the wrong way.

I guess with these factors, I am not surprised that so few can read at the proper level, I am surprised that ANY of the kids can..... in my opinion of course


Those who can, teach. Those who cannot complain about those who can. Ignorance is bliss.

When was the last time you stepped foot in a classroom, when YOU were a student many years ago? Times have changed, my friend. Try calling your local elementary school and asking them if you can sit in a classroom for a day and see for yourself just how hard those teachers work and how they find creative ways to teach and challenge a classroom full of INDIVIDUALS. You'll be amazed at what they are able to accomplish.

What you WON'T see are the hours of preparation the teachers put in at HOME. Teachers may only work "a day and a half more than a half year", but what you don't realize is that they are working 12-14 hour days during that time on top of all the classes that they are required to take during the school year and in the summer months in order to keep up their teaching license. The teaching profession is NOT for WIMPS!


Here is a question..... Back when we were in school (this is for ages 35 and up) did we ( well the majority of us) turn out ok???? That answer is yes. These days are ridiculous on how 800000 billion tests, homework for 10 hours a day after school and how the education system has screwed it up. Can things be better, of course, but this direction is not better. In fact, I think it is worse.

Kottage Kat

What ever happened to parents reading to their children? My parents both worked and MADE time to read to us, instilling a life long love of reading in us
Because of her love of reading and books my mother spent much of her teaching career promoting reading in her students.
she tutored manyon her own time, with no compensation.
Read to your children and be involved in their education, just one aspect of good parenting.


Exactly KK. Parents. Hard to find children that have parents. It all starts at home.


If your third grader can't read, that's bad parenting. Both my kids could read at age 5, prior to any schooling. It just takes a little parenting.

Kottage Kat

Double post