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Published: Friday, 5/18/2012

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Emphasis needed for 3rd-grade reading

I applaud Gov. John Kasich's initiative for a third-grade reading guarantee ("Guaranteed to read," editorial, May 15). If kids can't read proficiently going into fourth grade, they're doomed to fail in all subjects in school. The only question about their school life becomes how soon they'll drop out.

Your editorial pointed out drawbacks in the governor's guarantee, and the criticisms were on target. Toledo Public Schools ran a program for a few years that could be a model for reform and that addressed many of the drawbacks you highlighted.

If kids didn't pass the third-grade proficiency test, they had the option of going to reading-only summer school. They could try to pass the exam at the end of summer school.

If they didn't attend summer school, or attended but still didn't pass the proficiency exam, they were placed in grade three-plus, which had a curriculum primarily aimed at reading. The program was highly successful, and the feedback from the kids was great.

The program was discontinued because it was expensive. It required devoting extraordinary dollars to a small group of kids clustered in low teacher-to-student-ratio classes. But it's the best investment that can be made.

An ineffective program dooms kids to a life of dependency. An effective program gives them the tools to lead fulfilling lives.

Governor Kasich should move ahead, follow the prescription that worked at TPS, and fund the program with dedicated money.

Peter Silverman

Barrington Drive

Editor's note: The writer is a former president of the Toledo Board of Education and an appointee of Governor Kasich to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

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