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Ohio Schools Supertintendent Says Parents Should Prepare Kids Well Before Third Grade Reading Test

photo of Paolo DeMaria

Two of Northeast Ohio’s largest school districts are asking the state to re-examine how students are scored on a test that all third-graders must pass.

Students who don’t pass the Third Grade Reading Guarantee on the first try have several chances for re-takes, sometimes with an alternative test. Officials in Akron and Canton – as well as Columbus -- say the minimum required score for the alternate tests shouldn’t be higher than the one for the standard test, and it creates an unfair disadvantage for students who may test differently.

The districts brought the problem to the state school board earlier this month, where some board members said they could have a solution by the time school starts this fall.

Schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria, meanwhile, says parents need to not wait until a student is in third grade to address possible reading problems.

"Sometimes schools are running summer programs or libraries are running summer programs. If there's an early identification of a child's deficiencies in reading, I would get on top of that as soon as possible so we avoid having this conversation by the time that they're in third grade."

DeMaria adds that holding a student back may be beneficial if districts can provide the right type of reading support.

“These are all students that are well below the level of proficient. And if in fact, ... these districts are providing the kinds of valuable interventions and supports when students are retained -- and that the research shows that when those kind of supports are provided, that can be beneficial to students -- we shouldn't immediately say that just because a student is retained, that's harmful."