Saturday, August 28, 1999

Reading guarantees its grads

Employers can send them back

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        READING — The Reading School Board has put it in writing, guaranteeing it will fully educate its students.

        The board adopted its form of a guarantee for the district's sixth-graders and 12th-graders on a pilot basis for the 1999-2000 school year. The guarantees are designed to work with the Fourth-Grade Guarantee required by Ohio law, which says, in essence, that all students will be proficient readers by the fourth grade, said Superintendent John Varis.

        “You should read at grade level. That's not an unusual expectation,” Mr. Varis said. “This puts us on the spot, which is appropriate.”

        Written guarantees such as Reading's are uncommon among Ohio school districts. The 12th Grade Guarantee, which allows employers to send a graduate back to school if skills are weak, is modeled after a program at the Great Oaks Institute of Technology & Career Development vocational schools.

        Reading's Sixth-Grade Guarantee builds on Ohio's Fourth-Grade Guarantee. It states that before entering seventh grade, Reading's students will “read at a competency level at or above the sixth grade as determined by national standardized testing.”

        Sixth-graders not reading well enough will be given more tutoring and instruction.

        The 12th-Grade Guarantee — addressing the subject areas of reading, writing and math — tells employers that a Reading student will have the skills expected of a high-school graduate.

        If the employer and the graduate agree, they may re quest that the graduate receive additional teaching through evening classes or tutoring, the guarantee states.

        “It doesn't appear this will be a burden for the district. We expect maybe one or two students back a year,” Mr. Varis said.

        “If graduates still need some help, we'll help them.”

        To be eligible for the sixth-grade guarantee, a student must be enrolled in Reading schools from kindergarten through sixth; the 12th-grade guarantee applies to students enrolled in Reading schools from seventh grade through graduation.

        Great Oaks, which provides vocational training for about 35 Ohio school districts, adopted its Great Oaks Warranty Program in 1988. It was the first school district in Ohio to warranty students' skills and allow them to return for more training if necessary.


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