Top GOP Lawmaker Says State Not Ready For Number Of Failing Third Graders

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UPDATED: Friday March 7, 2014 6:37 PM

As the time nears for statewide testing of Ohio third graders who are now required to be proficient in reading, one top Republican lawmaker has made a dire prediction.

"I'm not sure the state is prepared, I'm not sure our schools are prepared, but it's going to happen," said state senator Peggy Lehner, chair of the senate Education Committee.  "It's going to be a tough year."

Starting this year, students who don't pass the third grade reading proficiency test will be held back.

Ohio education officials estimate that up to 30 percent or more of Ohio's third graders may fail to meet the requirement on the Ohio Achievement Assessment and won't be promoted to fourth grade.

Appearing for a taping of Capitol Square, Lehner - a supporter of the 3rd grade reading requirement - admits it's a work in progress.

"When it's your kid or your school that suddenly has twenty or thirty percent in their class being held back, the reality is that this is going to hurt and some people are going to say we need to undo this," said Lehner.

Many school districts are hoping the state extends the OAA testing window due to an excessive number of snow days this year.

Critics of the program - including Dale Butland from the left-leaning Innovation Ohio - are already placing the blame on Republican lawmakers.

"We're headed for a train wreck in which half the third graders in this state don't pass the test and get held back and they were set up for this failure by the governor and his allies," said Butland.

Results should arrive by August 15th, in time for students who pass to enter the fourth grade.