3rd-grade test stance the litmus test for Ohio BOE

As of Tuesday, there were four vacancies on the 19-member Ohio Board of Education. In filling them, Gov. John Kasich should ask potential new board members one question: Are you prepared to enforce the new “Third Grade Reading Guarantee” strictly?

Two of the board vacancies involve members normally appointed by the governor. The other two are elective positions, but if Kasich appoints temporary replacements, they will serve for most of this year.

This will be an eventful year in Ohio public schools – the most important in decades, in some respects.

For the first time this year, third-grade students are being required to pass a reading test before they can be promoted to fourth grade. When the test was given last fall, one-third of the state’s third graders failed it. They will have two more opportunities to pass the test, later this year.

Under the law, those who do not pass cannot be promoted until after their reading skills are improved.

It will be amazing if thousands of parents whose children fail in the next two rounds of testing do not protest loudly about the students being “held back.” Too often, officials buckle to such pressure, finding ways to promote children.

State school board members must not allow it. Children who cannot read by the end of third grade face enormous challenges later in life. The “guarantee” law is an opportunity to prevent that for many young Ohioans. Again, Kasich should insist on board members who will enforce the law to the letter.