Provision In Reading Requirement Gives Pass To Voucher Students
A liberal think tank is pointing out a discrepancy in the laws that lay out Ohioâs third grade reading guarantee. Students around the state are preparing for the second round of third grade reading tests. If a student fails to reach a certain standard on this test he or she could be held back, forced to repeat the third grade. The third grade reading guarantee was a controversial issue for which Republican Gov. John Kasich fought adamantly. Now some groups are pointing out a so-called flaw in the system. Dale Butland is a spokesperson for the liberal think tank Innovation Ohio. He says a student going to a public school and a student going to a private school with a publicly funded voucher are treated differently. If students with the vouchers fail the reading test, they get to move on to fourth grade. âWell itâs ridiculous," Butland says. "When you have voucher kids â that is to say kids that get state money, taxpayer funded money â which they then take to a private school â those kids ought to be subject to the same reading guarantee that public kids are.â? John Charlton, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education, agrees with Butland. âIt was kind of â I think â an oversight when the legislation was adopted. "However we believe certainly in Ohio that every third grader should be able to read on a third grade level by the time theyâre finished with the grade and thatâs definitely for the traditional public school kids and for the students thatâre attending non-public schools on a voucher.â? Butland disputes the claim that this was a simple oversight and says the issue was discussed during the committee process. Butland says the disparity between public school students and private school students with vouchers is just one glitch to the overall problem with the reading guarantee. According to Butland, the initiative is severely underfunded. While he says Ohio put $13 million towards the reading guarantee, Florida directed $1 billion to a similar program. âThatâs why I say we have really set these kids up for failure," Butland says. "This is an expensive proposition because the work has to start way back in kindergarten and so to do this properly itâs going to require some money and we have the money.â? Charlton defends the program and says itâs a disservice to kids in the private schools to exclude them from the initiative. âWe identify students very early as early as kindergarten to see if theyâre on track to be reading at the third grade level when they complete third grade and if theyâre not then we provide them with the appropriate intervention to get them up to speed and if students are not subject to the third grade reading guarantee then theyâre not getting the help that they need. "They may not be getting the help that they need in order to be reading at a proficient level at the end of third grade.â? This is something, according to Charlton, that needs to be fixed by the Legislature but until they do so the departmentâs hands are tied and must carry out the initiative the way itâs structured by law. Butland says the governor has the power to fix the issue in his budget update, known as the mid biennium review. However, heâs not sure if a revision would affect students currently in third grade. The governorâs MBR proposal is expected to be released on Tuesday.