The Canal Winchester Times

Third-grade reading guarantee

Interventions aim to help students pass test


Sixty-seven out of 278 Canal Winchester third-graders did not pass the Ohio Achievement Assessment test in reading administered in October and are in danger of being held back if they do not hit the mark in the spring.

The Ohio Department of Education released the test results to the districts in November.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said 211 Canal Winchester students -- 76 percent -- passed with a score of at least 392 on the English language-arts test.

Those figures include the test scores of 20 students with learning disabilities, previously retained students and some students on individualized education programs (IEP) who may be exempt from having to meet the requirements of the state's new third-grade guarantee, according to the ODE website.

The guarantee requires third-grade students to pass the reading test in order to be promoted to the fourth grade.

"Overall, our results are consistent to what we have received the last few years," Sotlar said.

To help students who did not pass the test this fall, Sotlar said the district will have an intervention teacher work with small groups of students inside and outside of the classroom, regularly monitoring their progress. Students also will be invited to participate in a free after-school academic program called Success, which serves about 150 students and meets every Tuesday for 90 minutes. It starts in February and ends in April.

"Each teacher within the program will have eight to 12 students and focus on reading and math," Sotlar said. "One night a month, we will have guest speakers and a family dinner that our local businesses help sponsor. This will be our fourth year of the Success program."

All of these efforts are aimed at helping students pass the next reading test in April, he said.

Those results, according to Sotlar, will not be available until June 15.

"At that time, we will review this information and identify the students below a 392," he said.

"The district does plan to offer summer remediation but at this time, we do not have a definite time frame for when this will occur," he said. "We are still waiting on a possible summer OAA administration date from the ODE as well as additional assessments that can be administered to the students to demonstrate the needed proficiency level for fourth grade."

John Charlton, associate director for ODE Media Relations, confirmed that no date has been set yet for students to take a summer reading test, which will be offered for the first time.

In addition to this third testing opportunity, students who do not pass the exam will be offered ODE-approved "alternative assessments" to demonstrate their proficiency in reading; however, Charlton said those alternatives have not been decided yet and are not expected to be approved until late February or early March.

While the third-grade guarantee does not allow students to move on without passing the reading test, it does allow them to be promoted in mid-year if they achieve the level of success mandated by ODE.

According to the new state law, third-graders who don't pass the reading test must be provided with "intense remediation services" that require at least 90 minutes of reading daily, and they must be instructed by a "high-performing" teacher.

If these students excel in other academic areas, such as math, school districts must also provide them with instruction that is equivalent to their achievement level in that subject.

"The law says that students who do not score the promotion score should continue to receive intervention and may take fourth-grade-level coursework in other subjects as they bring their reading skill level up," Charlton said.