Student Promotion and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee

For the 2015-2016 school year, a student must obtain the promotion score on Ohio’s third grade English language arts test to move on to the fourth grade. If a student does not reach that score, the student may still move on to fourth grade if they qualify for a retention exemption. These exemptions apply to:

  • Limited English proficient students who have been enrolled in U.S. schools for less than three full school years and have had less than three years of instruction in an English as a Second Language program;
  • Special education students whose IEPs specifically exempt them from retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee;
  • Any student who has received intensive remediation for two years and was previously retained in kindergarten through the third grade; and
  • Students who demonstrate an acceptable level of performance on an Alternative Assessment approved by the Ohio Department of Education.

Alternative Assessment

  • The Alternative Assessment is a standardized assessment(s) for reading determined by the Ohio Department of Education for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. It allows a third grade student to take and demonstrate an acceptable level of reading performance for promotion to the fourth grade. A short list of alternative assessments can be found here
  • Districts may administer these alternative assessments twice during the year and once during the summer to mimic Ohio’s third grade English language arts test administration. Districts and school should set dates for the administration of these assessments.
  • Districts should administer an alternative assessment to a student that has scored below the promotion score on the spring administration of Ohio’s third grade English language arts test if the student’s parents request it.
  • The district is responsible for the cost of the alternative assessment.

Summer Promotion

Summer Reading Programs

What you should know:

Ohio law says that instruction offered as part of a summer reading intervention programs must be:

  • Intensive–in-depth and for a sufficient period of time
  • Explicit–offer clear, complete explanations of reading concepts, while not assuming that a student already understands or can link the concepts
  • Systematic–address each student’s unique reading challenges and continually evaluate the student’s progress to identify what he or she still needs to progress

Considerations for Summer Reading Programs:

  • Student needs as identified by the student’s teacher and test results
  • The extent to which your district can provide intervention services
  • Program timing and duration
  • The experience and qualifications of intervention teachers
    • Although the summer reading teacher should be experienced and qualified to help struggling readers, the specific qualifications of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee do not apply
  • The focus of the intervention program
    • For example, basing the intervention on each student’s Third Grade Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan (RIMP)
  • Evaluation and monitoring of each student’s instruction and results
  • How parents will be involved

Summer promotion

The students can advance to fourth-grade during the summer by:

  • Reaching the promotion score on Ohio’s third grade English language arts test, or
  • Reaching a promotion score on an alternative assessment. 

Mid-year promotion

  • The law says that even if a student does not reach the promotion score in the summer, the student may become eligible for mid-year promotion.  Students who are retained are considered third graders until they are able to show reading proficiency on one of the promotion tests. Law also states that students receive instruction at levels matching their ability in other subjects if capable of doing so.  The decision to provide higher-level material is based on student data, progress monitoring, and individual learning needs.
  • Ohio law says that districts must offer retained students the option to receive reading intervention services from one or more providers other than the district. Your district’s mid-year promotion policy should make this clear.

Mid-Year Promotion policy considerations:

  • Intervention service providers other than the district
  • The focus of the district’s intervention
  • Monitoring and evaluation of service providers, teachers and student achievement
  • How parents will be involved

Placement in other subjects:
The law says that retained students who demonstrated proficiency in other academic subjects must receive instruction that matches their achievement level. Districts will benefit from adopting a policy that states how this will be accomplished.  It’s important to consider your staff, building configuration, and curriculum demands.

Third Grade Ohio Tests for retained students:
Even if students are getting more advanced instruction in other academic subjects, retained third-grade students must still take Ohio’s third grade state tests in all subject areas. It’s good to keep this in mind as you determine when to administer Mid-Year Promotion tests.

Also remember that students promoted to fourth-grade must take all of Ohio’s fourth grade state tests. Retained students must be reported in EMIS as third-graders until the district promotes them to fourth grade.

Legal Foundation (3313.608)

Alternative Assessment

(A)(2) … No school district shall promote to fourth grade any student who does not attain at least the equivalent level of achievement designated under division (A)(3) of section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code on the assessment prescribed under that section to measure skill in English language arts expected at the end of third grade, unless one of the following applies:

(c) The student demonstrates an acceptable level of performance on an alternative standardized reading assessment as determined by the department of education.

Summer Promotion

(B)(3)(c) … If the student participates in the remediation services and demonstrates reading proficiency in accordance with standards adopted by the department prior to the start of fourth grade, the district shall promote the student to that grade.

Midyear Promotion

(B)(3) For each student retained under division (A) of this section, the district shall do all of the following:

(b) Establish a policy for the mid-year promotion of a student retained under division (A) of this section who demonstrates that the student is reading at or above grade level


(B)(4) For each student retained under division (A) of this section who has demonstrated proficiency in a specific academic ability field, each district shall provide instruction commensurate with student achievement levels in that specific academic ability field. As used in this division, "specific academic ability field" has the same meaning as in section 3324.01 of the Revised Code.

Last Modified: 8/5/2015 2:09:49 PM