SB21 - Brings changes to 3rd grade reading law

Earlier this week, the Ohio Senate passed SB21 (30-1), a bill that would alter requirements of the 3rd grade reading guarantee. The changes were a positive step, and will make it easier for schools and educators to meet the standard, that previously were nearly impossible to meet.

According to a Gongwer report

The bill would eliminate language that required teachers to "be actively engaged in the reading instruction of students for the previous three years," which was seen as a roadblock to hiring new teachers or other qualified educators and was considered a very difficult or nearly impossible standard to meet.

"Given the importance of the third-grade reading guarantee to the future of our children, we listened very carefully" to the suggestions of principals and superintendents, sponsoring Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said.

The bill also includes

  • Closing the loophole whereby a child could avoid being held back by skipping the test.
  • Exempts students who have significant cognitive disabilities
  • Removes "credential" and replaces it with "completion of a program" which would cover programs, such as Orton-Gillingham, that do not produce a credential upon completion.
  • Replaces a value-added score requirement when the teacher is an effective reading instructor, as determined by criteria established by ODE.
  • Allows schools the authority to get a waiver by resolution for their action plan required when the district is unable to hire sufficient teachers with the approved credentials.

The lone no vote was Sen. Joe Schiavoni who said he voted against the bill because, although he supports the policy, the lack of funding is a problem.

"We need to put the $130 million, the $100 million-dollar tag on this to help schools pay for this," he said.

Sen. Gardner, who will chair the subcommittee that will hear the K-12 portion of the budget bill, said he expects to see bicameral, bipartisan support to provide more funding to support the goals of the TGRG in that legislation.

Let's hope so. It's not often we get education bills moving in the right direction. This bill still needs to pass the House.

You can read the full text of the bill, here. For those who would prefer a more plain english explanation, here's LSC's analysis.

SB21 - 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee Changes by