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Kasich’s Education Reform Struggles in Ohio Legislature

By German Lopez · May 16th, 2012 · City Desk

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been at odds with his own party during the past week over a battle for education reform. On May 8, Republicans in the Ohio Senate pushed to slow down Kasich’s reforms, which would call for tougher reading standards and report-card rating systems in Ohio schools and districts.

Under Kasich’s new rules, as many as 17,000 students could have qualified for retention in the 2010-2011 school year, according to a study by the Ohio Department of Education.

With the new rules, kids would be tested every year starting in kindergarten. Any kids who are below standards would receive special tutoring, and any who fail to improve to “proficient” or above by the time of the third-grade reading test would be held back.

Similar standards were passed in Florida a decade ago.

At first, 27,713 third-graders were held back, up from 6,435 the previous year, according to the Florida Department of Education. The number dropped to 13,666 in the 2007-2008 school year.

However, research shows holding kids back hurts them more than helps. The National Association of School Psychologists says that grade retention has “deleterious long-term effects,” both academically and socially.

Kasich has also proposed tougher grading standards for schools and districts, which he hopes will hold schools more accountable.

Republican critics don’t necessarily oppose all the reforms, but they would like to see the reforms implemented more carefully and slowly. School officials, state education groups and teachers unions have repeatedly asked for more time to tell parents and teachers about the upcoming changes.

The news comes at a time when states around the country are moving to enact education reform after years of disappointment. In 2010, the U.S. fell to a rating of “average” in the international rankings released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. ranked No. 14 out of 34 OECD countries in reading, No. 17 for science and a below-average No. 25 for math. (German Lopez)



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