3rd Grade Reading Guarantee

3rd Grade Reading Guarantee

Check here frequently for changes to this policy and on legislation that has been introduced to amend the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee.

ODE Parent Roadmaps To Understanding The Third Grade Reading Guarantee

3rd Grade Reading GuaranteeStarting in the 2013/14 school year, it will be mandatory to retain (hold back) 3rd grade students that are not proficient in reading on the Ohio Achievement Assessment. There are very few exceptions to this policy.

If your child is in 3rd grade or younger, and

  • you suspect your child has a specific learning disability such as dyslexia or
  • your child has been identified as having a specific learning disability such as dyslexia,

please be sure to read the Guidance For Students With Disabilities to understand what the exceptions are and to ensure your child is not retained.  It may require that the IEP state the child is not to be retained. There are very few exceptions to this policy.

Statement for Students with Disabilities being Exempted from high stakes consequences of the 3rd Grade Reading Guarante:

The statement is about why the child is NOT being retained due to the 3rd Grade Guarantee. The following statement is directly from the Guidance Document on Special Education: “Exempt from retention” documentation for students with disabilities should be recorded on the IEP within Section 12 (Statewide and District-wide Testing) as follows: (write in)

“Yes, the child is exempt from retention in the third grade because of the the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. (Student Name) is exempt because…” (write one of the reasons stated below).

Similar to the exemption from consequence for the Ohio Graduation Test, to be eligible to be excused, the student should meet one of two criteria;

  1. the student is completing a curriculum that is signficantly different from the curriculum completed by other students required to take the Grade 3 Reading OAA, or
  2. the student requires accommodations that are beyond the allowable accommodations as outlined in OAC 3301-13-03(H).

If the student meets one of these criteria, the IEP team (remember parents are part of the IEP team and have a voice) then decides if the student will be excused from the Third Grade Reading Guarantee retention provision.

If your child is facing possible retention, here are some things to consider:

By federal law (IDEA), the school district is mandated to find children with disabilities.

  • Has your school district evaluated your child for a specific learning disability?
  • Has your child been identified as eligible under IDEA for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)?
  • Does the IEP state the child is to be exempt from retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee?

If you are having a meeting with your school to discuss the possibility of retention:

  • Do not go alone.  Bring someone else who is knowledgeable about the child, whether it be the other parent, grandparent, tutor, etc.
  • Contact your Parent Mentor and
    1. Explain your situation and see if they share the same viewpoint as you.
    2. If so, request that they attend the meeting with you.  Parent mentors are provided through the Ohio Coalition for Children with Disabilities.  It is a federally funded service that offer parents assistance in navigating special education and their child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Parent Mentors provide advocacy services to parents free of charge.
  • Be prepared!  Make sure you have supporting documentation to backup your opinion, whether it is standardized test results, independent evaluations, information or research on retention, etc.


Here is a great article that explains the test the child needs to be proficient on in order to advance to 4th grade.  Note:  not only must the student answer multiple choice questions, but also short answers and extended responses.  So the test measures more than just reading ability, but also writing ability as well.   If your child struggles with writing and/or reading, it might be worth looking into 1 of 3 alternative assessments approved by ODE on 3/12/2014.

This article explains how ODE determined the “cut score” for 3rd grade reading proficiency.

Information on Retention Policies

Grade Retention: Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes by National Association of School Psychologists

What the Research Says About Grade Retention

The Grade Retention Fallacy (Harvard Civil Rights Project)

Position Statement On Student Grade Retention And Social Promotion

The Effects of Test-Based Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida

Wrightslaw’s Retention, Delays, and Social Promotion Page

Research Shows Ohio’s Third Grade Retention Law Will Increase Dropout Rates

The Third Grade Reading Guarantee’s Major Flaw: Student Retention = Higher Dropout Rates

State Superintendent Ignores Research, Advocates for Retention Of Third Graders

Repeating a grade:  The pros and cons

Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self Defeating?

Third Grade Again:  The Trouble With Holding Students Back

The Washington Post Live:  Reading Milestones:  governors and education commissioners from key states raise awareness of the importance of reading well by the third grade in an online discussion (recorded)