Third Grade Reading Guarantee

Issued March 27, 2020

On March 12, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine ordered all of Ohio’s public, community and private K-12 school buildings to be closed to students due to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. On March 18, at his daily coronavirus press conference, the governor signaled the ordered school-building closure likely would last longer than three weeks.

The ordered school-building closure leaves many questions about how the Third Grade Reading Guarantee will be applied for the 2019-2020 school year. Below is information addressing Ohio’s Third Grade English language arts test spring administration and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee’s retention and Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plan provisions.

The Ohio Department of Education recognizes the challenges educators, students and families are facing because of this public health crisis.



Due to temporary changes in state law made in the context of the current coronavirus state of emergency, districts and public schools are not required to administer the spring 2020 Ohio’s State Test for third-grade English language arts.



Many third-grade students already met the promotion threshold after the fall administration of the third-grade English language arts assessment — either by achieving the necessary overall scale score or the reading subscore. Also, many students already may have met the promotion requirement based on scores on locally administered alternative assessments.

Newly enacted Ohio law temporarily removes the requirement that a student meet the promotion threshold for the 2019-2020 school year to advance to fourth grade. Specifically, no school district, community school or STEM school and no chartered nonpublic school that is required to administer assessments to scholarship students shall retain a student in the third grade following the 2019-2020 school year based solely on the student’s academic performance in reading. However, if the student’s principal and reading teacher agree the student’s reading skills demonstrate the student is reading below grade level and is not academically prepared to be promoted to fourth grade, the student may be retained.



Districts and community schools are strongly encouraged, but not required, to provide continued support for all students who did not meet the promotion threshold during the fall 2019 testing administration. Also, districts are expected to continue supporting students with Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans for the 2019-2020 school year. However, the Ohio Department of Education is granting districts temporary flexibility in the implementation of the statutory requirements for Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans. Please consider the following:

  • Small-group or one-on-one remote instruction: Districts using technology for live instruction should consider providing small-group or one-on-one intervention to those students through their chosen platforms. To do this, districts may need to mail materials (manipulatives and texts) to students’ homes or have pickup available.
  • Teacher-monitored online instruction: For districts that are not using technology platforms to provide live instruction but are asking students to use technology at home to continue learning, consider using online instruction programs that enable the teacher to monitor progress without providing in-person instruction.
  • Family support videos: Districts can create implementation strategy videos for families who are interested in providing the intervention themselves.
  • Summer programming: Districts that are not using technology to provide remote instruction should begin planning for intensive summer programming for students on Reading Improvement and Monitoring Plans.

Districts must continue to provide opportunities for a student’s parents or guardians to be involved in the instructional services. The Ohio Department of Education is developing resources for districts and families to support continued learning at home.

Please consider the following in supporting English learners:

  • Headsprout: Families can get free access to Headsprout, an evidence-based reading program that includes English learners. Headsprout is an online program with printable documents.
  • Talking Points app: Districts should stay in contact with families of English learners. The app Talking Points is free of charge, provides translation for 100+ languages and allows for individual or group messaging. Phone numbers are kept private. This is a time to encourage rich home language environments that include reading together and promoting a student’s cultural and linguistic identities —a foundation for developing biliteracy.

This information addresses concerns regarding the 2019-2020 school year. Many educators will have questions regarding the impact on the 2020-2021 school year. The Ohio Department of Education will provide additional information regarding next year as it becomes available.

Please contact the Ohio Department of Education at if you have any questions about the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Last Modified: 3/31/2020 5:26:28 PM