Grove City Record

School district ready for new reading requirements

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The South-Western City School District is well-prepared to meet the requirements regarding the state's new third-grade reading guarantee.

"We're able to say, 'Senate Bill 316 -- we've got that covered,' "Patrick Callaghan, executive director for elementary education, told the school board at its Sept. 24 meeting.

Callaghan presented an overview of the protocols the district has in place to address the reading guarantee.

Ohio law now requires that beginning next school year, third-grade students will not be promoted to fourth grade if they do not reach a certain benchmark on the reading portion of the Ohio Achievement Test.

This provision does not apply to this year's third-grade class.

Beginning with this school year, districts were required to conduct reading assessments of all students in kindergarten through third grade by Sept. 30.

"We've met that (deadline) easily," Callaghan said. "These assessments have been completed already and well before Sept. 30."

The district already conducts diagnostic assessments of elementary students each year during the staggered-start days, he said.

The state also now requires district's to identify students after the assessments as either being "on track" or "not on track" in achieving anticipated progress in reading for their grade level.

Parents of students found to be not on track will be notified of their child's status, Callaghan said. Even parents of students in kindergarten or first grade will be notified if their child is "not on track."

"We must craft an intervention plan and track that plan through the school year," he said.

Parents will be invited to meet with their child's teacher to discuss the individualized intervention plan, Callaghan said.

Teachers will monitor students' progress throughout the year and update the intervention plan as needed to make sure reading skills are improving, he said.

The district has a "good strong reading recovery program in place," which will include in-school and after-school tutoring opportunities for students, Callaghan said.

Although this year's third-grade students are not subject to being held back due to their reading scores, a review of the assessments made earlier this school year show that about 549 students out of the approximately 1,471 youngsters enrolled in third grade are not on track at this time, he said.

"That number may seem high, but our intention was to cast a pretty wide net," Callaghan said. "I'm confident that with the program we have in place, those not on track (numbers) will diminish through the school year."

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