Dublin Villager

Third-grade reading guarantee

District has plan to boost scores in spring testing

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Of the 1,081 Dublin third-graders who took the state's reading test this fall, 113 didn't meet state benchmarks.

The new "third-grade reading guarantee" is in full swing and by the new state law, if the 113 third-graders don't meet benchmarks when they take the test again in the spring, they cannot be promoted to fourth grade.

Preliminary test results from the Ohio Department of Education were released to schools recently and final results are due Friday, Dec. 13. WBNS-10TV, a sister news agency to ThisWeek Community News, obtained the preliminary results through an open records request.

Students took the reading test Oct. 8 and about 11 percent of Dublin third-graders did not achieve a passing score of 392, two points higher than the passing score of 390 students had to achieve in spring 2013.

"We expected that some kids would have difficulty reaching that benchmark at that time of year," said Dublin City School District Director of Literacy Jill Reinhart of the fall results. "We don't have surprises."

When last year's third-graders retook the test in the spring, 64 students didn't meet the benchmark.

Dublin City Schools has students from about 60 different countries and Reinhart said some students come to school with little to no knowledge of English.

"A lot of those kids have only been in the country four years," she said, noting students who have been in the country for less than three years are exempt from the guarantee.

"If they got here in kindergarten they will be held accountable," Reinhart said.

"It's a lot of English to pick up in a short time. Those are some of the challenges we are facing, but we are committed and we certainly feel like we are up to the task."

The district has plans in place to help students perform better on the test this spring.

"Our schools, principals and staff are looking very closely at the profiles of kids that scored in different places," Reinhart said.

"We're reaching out to parents to talk with them about where the kids fell and opportunities we can do between now and the spring administration of the test. ... All elementary school principals worked last week on parent classes and parent partnerships of how to read with your child and how to keep reading at the heart of things and reach benchmarks."

The results will help the district get students who need it extra help in reading, Reinhart said.

"We already know which kids we need to be thinking about and partnering with parents on right now," she said.

Results from the spring testing won't be available to the district until after school ends, which could be tricky for placing students in summer programs or the proper grade for the next school year, Reinhart said.

"We'll see how kids do," she said.

"We're already planning the summer experience for kids as well," she said. "We're always focusing on early intervention here.

"We're really focused and hooking up kids with the right resources they need."

As the law stands, if a student does not meet the benchmarks on the reading test in the fall and spring, they cannot graduate to the fourth grade.

The law, however is based on retention and students can "receive instruction for fourth-grade areas they're able to navigate," Reinhart said.

"We're in the process of adopting board policy to determine summer promotion to the fourth grade and mid-year (promotion) once kids administer ability on the reading assessment," she said.

"This is pretty high stakes when you're 8 or 9."