Grove City Record

State reading mandate

'Guarantee' holds back 119 SWCS third-graders

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A total of 119 South-Western students have yet to reach the benchmark set by the state's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee and will not officially be moving on to fourth grade when the new school year begins Sept. 2.

While those students will be enrolled in fourth-grade classrooms and receiving fourth-grade instruction with their classmates in all other subjects, they still will receive third-grade reading instruction from their teachers, said Brian Bowser, the district's executive director of elementary education.

"The state still recognizes them as being third-graders," he said.

The total does not include those students who are exempt from the reading guarantee including special needs students, English as a Second Language students who have not been in the country long enough or those who have already been held back in third grade.

The split classroom setup already is standard practice for the district, Bowser said.

Throughout the elementary grades, students who are lagging behind in reading skills will receive personal instruction from teachers, he said.

A total of 220 third-graders participated in the five-week reading intervention program the district held June 9-July 8, Bowser said.

The class met two hours a day, four days a week, Bowser said.

"It was conducted much like a regular classroom," he said.

Through both class lessons and personalized instruction, the students worked on their reading and writing skills, Bowser said.

"Those two skills are interconnected," he said.

Participating students were given another opportunity to take the Ohio Achievement Assessments' reading test July 8.

When the last school year ended, 191 South-Western third-graders had still not passed the Ohio Achievement Assessments' reading test, Bowser said. Last year, 1,505 students were enrolled in third grade.

"While we're pleased with the results, our goal is to have every single child read to his or her full potential, so we will continue to be focused on working with all of our students to improve their reading and writing skills," he said.

The Ohio Department of Education has scheduled five opportunities during the 2014-15 school year for students retained in third grade to retake the OAA, Bowser said.

The test is 50 questions, with a mix of multiple choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. The scores are scaled and, according to the Ohio Department of Education, the possible range of scores on the test is between 260 and 503.

Once a student has achieved the benchmark score of 392 on the reading OAA, he or she will be promoted officially to the fourth grade, Bowser said.

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