Ohio is Changing 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee Policy: Is it Giving up or Getting Rid of Stigmas?

Ohio’s recently approved budget has made some significant changes to child literacy and education policy. The 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee has been a point of contention for educators, parents, students, and policymakers. An update to the policy removes mandatory retention for students who do not meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee’s promotion threshold. Some see this as a positive move forward, but others question if Ohio is giving up on its child literacy initiatives.

Big Changes in Policy

Prior to the change in the law, third grade students who didn’t perform at grade level on a state reading test were required to repeat that grade. Now, A parent will be able to request a student be promoted to fourth grade. The student’s parents must consult with the reading teacher and principal before a decision is made, and the student would continue to receive reading intervention until they are reading at grade level.

Differences in Opinion

Many educators see this as a positive change in policy. “We think it’s a very positive step forward to return decision making regarding how best to serve students who might need extra support in reading to the parents and educators who know those kids best,” Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro told the Ohio Capital Journal. 

However, others do not agree. Jessica Poiner of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute writes, “…backing away from a rigorous policy intended to help kids and hold schools accountable for student progress is very on brand for Ohio lawmakers and leaders. In fact, Ohio has a long history of going all-in on big education policy changes and then backing off when it comes time to implement them.”

Some policy makers would prefer that lawmakers wait until the new literacy initiatives that promote the “science of reading” approach in classrooms take effect. However, parents and educators worry that holding struggling readers back stigmatizes students and does not improve future reading scores.

The changes to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee policy will take place beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. Parents can find the specifics of the policy on the Ohio Department of Education website.


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