One of the signature policy initiatives in the Kasich MBR is the proposed change in the 3rd grade reading guarantee.
Specifically, according to LSC analysis, the bill (SB316) makes several changes to the third grade reading guarantee beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Under current law, the third grade reading guarantee requires school districts and community schools to retain in third grade a student who scores in the "limited" range on the third grade English language arts assessment, unless the student's principal and reading teacher agree that the student is academically prepared for fourth grade or the student will receive intervention services in fourth grade. The bill changes the "cut" score and applies the guarantee to all students who do not receive at least a "proficient" (or passing) score on the assessment. The "limited" score, which currently triggers the guarantee, is the lowest of five scoring ranges and two levels below "proficient."
In short, more students will be held back, and less flexibility will be granted to educators in determining if a student who misses the proficient level can proceed to the fourth grade.
None of this expansion is funded, so let's take a look at what this policy might additionally cost cash strapped schools.
In October 2011, a total of 126,569 3rd grade Ohio public school students participated in the Reading Achievement Test. Here are the aggregated results, according to ODE statistics.
In recent years the number of students scoring proficient or higher has varied from a high of 67.5% to a low of 53.3%. Remember, according to the new proposal, any student scoring below proficient is likely to be held back and made to repeat 3rd grade.
Again, according to ODE statistics, the median cost per pupil in Ohio per year in 2011 was $9,567.89, with an average of $9,961.57.
Under the new rules, the 51,925 students who failed to reach the minimum proficiency standard would have been at risk of being held back. At a median cost of $9,961 per student, districts could be on the hook for a total of $517,224,925 to fund that many students repeating 3rd grade.
To put that into some perspective, the crisis in Cleveland public schools is caused by a budget shortfall of $65 million. This unfunded manade could pay for that shortfall 8 times over.