Who Decides If A Third Grader Can Read?

Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee law is based off of a law in Florida that has been in place for many years.  In Florida, a student must reach a certain level on their state test, the FCAT 2.0, in order to avoid being retained in third grade.  As in Ohio, there are a variety of exceptions for English Language Learners and special education students.  Florida has supposedly had a great deal of success with their law and individuals from the Florida Department of Education even testified in Ohio when the legislation was under consideration in the General Assembly.

Let’s take a look at how Florida’s law works and how they identify when a third grade student needs retained.

The FCAT 2.0 is the generic name for all of the content area and grade level tests now administered in Florida.  On the third grade reading test, students complete 45 multiple choice questions that end up being converted to a “developmental scaled score” between 140-260.  Depending on their scaled score, students are classified into one of five levels, described as follows:

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For Florida’s third grade students, they must obtain a scaled score of at least 182 out of 260 and reach Level 2 in order to be eligible to advance to fourth grade.  Any student scoring in Level 1 (scale score of 140-181) is retained in third grade.

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