Today, Ohio Excels and the Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) released a study on the academic impact of retaining students under Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee and providing them with extra support. Using a rigorous statistical method that compares extremely similar students who were retained versus narrowly promoted, the analysis reveals substantial academic progress among those who repeated third grade. In fourth and fifth grade, gains are equivalent to roughly a full achievement level on state exams and remain statistically significant through seventh grade (the last grade the analysts could track).
“This research, plus studies from other states, offer clear and convincing evidence that retention boosts achievement,” said Aaron Churchill, Ohio Research Director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Children with severe reading deficiencies benefit greatly when schools are required to provide extra time and support.”
Enacted in 2012, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee requires schools to retain third graders who perform at very low levels on state reading exams. The Ohio House has proposed to eliminate the requirement, and its proposal is currently pending in the Senate.
“To ensure struggling students receive the benefit of extra attention, Ohio lawmakers need to stand firm on third grade retention,” continued Churchill. “To their credit, policymakers are pushing for scientifically based reading instruction in elementary schools, including an emphasis on phonics. That should reduce the need for retention moving forward. But to ensure that no child falls through the cracks, retention still needs to be included in Ohio’s plan to improve literacy.”