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Districts Rush To Meet Third Grade Reading Guarantee

More than half of the Columbus School district's 4,400 third graders could be held back. They haven't met the so called third grade reading guarantee and passed state reading tests. And with four months left in the school year, district are trying more intense measures to help its struggling third graders. Read more about the third grade reading guarantee from State Impact. Columbus school board member Ramona Reyes says the stakes are life-changing for thousands of third graders who can't read at grade level. "Because we know that retention doesn't just have an impact them on third grade," Reyes says. "It possibly could have an impact on them the rest of their lives." As the spring state reading tests approach, the district is recruiting volunteers, parents and teachers to help more students read at grade level. Superintendent Dan Good says more parent involvement is needed to dent the problem. He's asking parents of third graders to attend this week-end's so-called 'Parent Literacy Academy.' Parents will attend reading workshops with their child as literacy coaches give tips on ways to improve reading test scores. It will take place at East High School. Teachers are also recruiting volunteers known as "reading buddies". They would read to students during lunch breaks and after school . Good says the third graders will also begin seeing books in unfamiliar places. "We're making certain high quality print materials available in very non-traditional places such as on buses and in lunchrooms," Good says. Good says reading instruction will also change. Some teachers will emphasize reading methods that were used in classrooms in the past. "We're offering additional professional development, specifically focused around phonics, alphabetic principles...so more of the phonics based approach to reading." Columbus and other Ohio urban school districts are asking for additional state money to help pay for the third grade reading programs. Learn more about the required reading limit of 400. Good says the intensive effort aims to to boost the district's 3rd grade reading scores by ten percent this spring. Even if they meet that goal, nearly 1,800 Columbus students still risk having to repeat third grade.