About 95 percent of Gahanna-Jefferson third-graders met the state-mandated Third-Grade Reading Guarantee and will advance to fourth grade in August.

About 95 percent of Gahanna-Jefferson third-graders met the state-mandated Third-Grade Reading Guarantee and will advance to fourth grade in August.

Scott Schmidt, the district's executive director of elementary education, said 508 of 537 students met the Ohio Department of Education's requirements to be officially promoted to fourth grade. That's slightly different from the ODE's preliminary data, which show 506 of 542, or 93.4 percent, passing.

This is the first year for the state mandate, a program to identify students from kindergarten through third grade who are behind in reading.

Except for those with special circumstances, third-grade students must meet a minimum score on the state reading test to move on to the fourth grade.

The 50-question Ohio Achievement Assessment reading test is a mix of multiple choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions.

According to the ODE, scores are scaled and have a possible range of 260 to 503. Students who failed to reach the passing score of 392 in the fall or spring are supposed to be held back. Eventually, any student who scores below 400, which is considered proficient, will be retained.

Schmidt said 88 percent of Gahanna-Jefferson third-graders passed the test with a score of 400 or above; 47 percent scored at an advanced level; 26 percent, accelerated; 15 percent, proficient; 9 percent, basic; and 3 percent, limited.

He said most of the 29 students who haven't met at least one of the state's requirements for promotion are in summer school. They will have another opportunity July 7 or 10 to take the OAA.

"We're happy," Schmidt said. "We would have liked to have 100 percent meeting the expectation. With the steps that were in place, we were happy we had a 95-percent success rate."

When final data are released from the state, Schmidt said, they should show about 88 percent actually passed. Although scores between 393-399 are not considered proficient (passing), the state determined that 392 is the score to avoid retention, he said.

"Eighty-eight percent did pass the test across third grade, but you look at 95 percent who met the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee," he said. "If you scored between 400 and 393, you were considered not passing OAA."

Students who do not meet the state criteria will be retained; however, they will receive fourth-grade instruction for math, science and social studies in a fourth-grade classroom.

They will receive reading instruction from a teacher certified to teach third grade and will be promoted mid-year to fourth grade if they pass the OAA in the fall or reach grade-level reading expectations on district assessments," Schmidt said.

"We have always strived to provide appropriate reading instruction to students at their level, with the goal of all students making at least a year's worth of growth," Schmidt said. "For students who are below grade level, in addition to regular instruction, we provide intense intervention to help them reach grade-level expectations."

Ohio's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee is intended to ensure that every struggling reader gets the support he or she needs to be able to learn and achieve. Schools must provide help and support to make sure students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade.

In kindergarten through third grade, schools evaluated all children to determine whether they were reading as well as they should be. If a child appeared to be falling behind in reading, the school immediately started a reading improvement plan, Schmidt said.

This plan addressed each student's reading problems, and schools monitored the plan to make sure the students reading improved, he said.

Schools work closely with parents to help create a remedy and for parents to be able to support the plan.