by German Lopez
Kasich faces opposition from fellow Republicans
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been
put at odds with his own party during the past few days over a battle
for education reform. On Tuesday, 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.
The tougher reading standards could potentially hold back 12
percent of Ohio third-graders, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
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. While
it was rough at first with 13 percent of third-graders in Florida being held
back, scores have begun improving, Patricia Levesque, former education advisor
to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told The Dispatch.
However, research shows holding kids back hurts them more
than helps. After reviewing decades of research, the National Association of
School Psychologists found 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.
One bright spot was found earlier this year when a report
showed U.S. high school graduation rates had increased to 75.5 percent in 2009,
up from 72 percent in 2001.
President Barack Obama has tried to encourage widespread
education reform with his “Race to the Top” initiative. The program pushes
states to compete for funds with education reform plans. The states with the
best programs are then rewarded federal funds as they implement reform.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland won funds for Ohio with his
reform plan, and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan congratulated Ohio for
being on schedule with reforms earlier this year.