Must-Know Facts About Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee

Must-Know Facts About Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee

Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee


Parents with elementary-age children who haven’t taken the Third Grade Reading Guarantee might be wondering if their kids will be ready for the state mandated test. While school districts begin preparing students in kindergarten, here are some things to know and do before your child reaches third grade.

What is the Test?
The Third Grade Reading Guarantee aims to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade, says Brittany Halpin, associate director for media relations at the Ohio Department of Education.

“The guarantee drives attention to students from kindergarten to third grade who are struggling readers and makes sure they get the help they need to succeed in reading,” Halpin says. “Through this initiative, school districts and community schools diagnose reading issues, create individualized Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans and provide intensive reading interventions.”

The assessment is given to third grade students in the fall, spring and summer (of the next year). If your child achieves the promotion score (visit for this year’s test schedule and scores needed) on the fall, spring or summer test, he or she will be promoted to fourth grade.

“Children in kindergarten through grade 3 who are not on track for reading proficiently by grade 3 (determined by fall reading diagnostic) must be placed on a Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan (RIMP), which includes providing targeted instructional services based on the child’s reading deficiencies,” Halpin says. “If a third grade student who is not already on a RIMP does not achieve a promotion score on the fall grade 3 English language arts Ohio State Test, districts should provide interventions to those students.”

The state does have alternative assessments for eligible students, however, parents need to seek out information from their school district to find out if the test is available in their school system.

In 2015-16, 93 percent of third-graders met the test requirements; 0.3 percent achieved the score in the summer, 8.3 percent attained it with alternative assessments, and 5.5 percent had an exemption.

“If a student does not achieve a promotion score on the fall, spring, or summer Grade 3 English language arts test administration or an approved alternative assessment, and does not meet any exemption criteria outlined in law, the school must retain the student to the third grade,” Halpin says. “For retained students, districts and schools must provide intensive intervention in reading that addresses the areas of deficiencies identified by the fall reading diagnostic, and any other relevant diagnostic tool.”

She adds, districts can also utilize the mid-year promotion policy to advance students who are ready. State law prescribes a tool that allows retained students to be promoted as soon as they are ready to advance to the fourth grade -— even within weeks after the start of the school year.

Get Reading Early
Parents need to begin the reading process at an early age by using age-appropriate strategies. The Ohio Department of Education provides resources to parents regarding early literacy tips from infancy through preschool.

Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center provides the following simple, recommended activities that parents can do with their child:

Read everything: point out words on signs, read instructions and captions out loud; encourage your child to help you cook or bake and read the instructions together.

Play word games like I Spy: as you talk with your child point out the names, colors and shapes of things. “I spy with my little eye, something that is a square and has lots of pages.” It’s a book. This helps your child build vocabulary, which is key to sounding out unknown words while reading (it’s much easier to sound out a word if you know that the word exists in the first place).

Go to the library to read books with your child. Then connect what you read with what happens in life (read about animals and take a trip to the zoo).

Have your child use a finger to trace a letter while saying the letter’s sound. Do this on paper, in sand, or on a plate of sugar.

Sing songs, read rhyming books, and say silly tongue twisters. These help kids become sensitive to the sounds in words.


Facts for the 2017-18 School Year

The 2017-18 academic year is underway across Ohio, and the Ohio Department of Education has some great resources for families as our children head back to the classroom. Here are some things to know this year:

  • Students in the class of 2018 have multiple pathways to earn a high school diploma so they can move on to their next steps in education or a career. Visit the fact sheet on to learn more.
  • High school seniors can boost earning power when they graduate with an industry-recognized credential. The Senior Only Credential Program is for students in their senior year who have completed most of their curriculum requirements.
  • Create an Ohio Means Jobs K-12 Backpack. With this tool, middle and high school students can explore career interests, launch career plans, build resumes and search for job options.
  • Special Education, for students ages 3 to 21, is guided by federal and state requirements. The department has created “A Guide to Parent Rights in Special Education.”
  • Homeless students have rights to the same education as any other student in Ohio. The department has developed a helpful brochure, “A Parent’s Guide to the Rights of Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.”
  • Keep our schools and students safe: The free SaferOH tip line allows students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety — whether that involves a threatened mass incident or harm to a single student. Calls or texts to 844-SaferOH (844-723-3764) are accepted and answered 24 hours a day.
  • Ohio families can now get the latest education news, search for schools in their neighborhoods and look at their schools’ report cards right from their smartphones or iPads using the new Ohio Department of Education mobile app. Download the app at
  • Join the conversation: sign up for text alerts from the Ohio Department of Education at

Submitted by the Ohio Department of Education.

About the author

Angela Gartner has been the editor at Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine since 2014. She has won local and national awards for her features, columns and photography over the years. Previously, her work appeared in publications including The News-Herald, Sun Newspapers and The Chicago Tribune. She grew up in Northeast Ohio and is a mom of two boys. The whole family is busy every weekend with sports and finding new happenings around the region. She is also a board member and past president at the Cleveland Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She loves reading, writing poetry and taking the family's Scottish Terrier on walks.

1 Comment

  1. Jeffrey Conwell

    I have a question. What if my child doesn’t pass the required test, but was already retained in the kindergarten? My understanding is that she must be passed on regardless.

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