Hilliard Northwest News

Third-grade reading test

Morris: Results are one piece of the puzzle

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For the first time this year, third-grade students in Ohio school districts are required to achieve a minimum score on a standardized reading test to advance to the fourth grade.

The new standard is part of Ohio's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.

Students have two opportunities to achieve the minimum score, once in the fall and once in the spring.

Final results of the fall tests are expected to be released Friday, Dec. 13, by the Ohio Department of Education, but the ODE already released preliminary results Nov. 25 for districts to review.

According to the preliminary results, Hilliard third-grade students fared slightly worse than some other suburban districts.

But the numbers do not take into account students who are exempt from the retention requirement, said district spokeswoman Amanda Morris, and it's not apples-to-apples when comparing one district's numbers to another.

Morris said the district cannot divulge the number of exempted students because it would violate the privacy of those students to reveal the information used in determining exemption status.

English-language learners who have been in the United States for three or fewer years are exempt, as are some students who have an individualized learning plan.

Preliminary results show 1,154 third-grade students were administered the third-grade reading test, and 190, or 16.5 percent, failed to score the minimum passing score of 392.

The latest number is an increase from test results last spring, but those numbers stem from a different set of students and were administered before the retention requirement was in place.

Last spring, 1,178 Hilliard students tested and 113, or 9.6 percent, failed to achieve the then-minimum score of 390.

According to preliminary results for the fall tests obtained in a public-records request by WBNS-10TV, 10.5 percent of third-graders in Dublin failed to pass the test.

Other rates were 7.2 percent in Upper Arlington; 10.7 percent in Westerville; 13 percent in Pickerington; 14 percent in Gahanna-Jefferson; 15 percent in Worthington; 27 percent in South-Western; and 38 percent in Whitehall.

Not all districts released the preliminary results.

"Our focus is not on the overall numbers but the individual student," Morris said.

Morris said the third-grade reading test is one of many barometers, including other standardized testing and specialty testing within the district, used to chart the best practices for students.

"This data and the other data we collect allow us to develop a full picture for every student," Morris said.

Morris said educators will develop intervention strategies and other techniques to prepare students for tests in the spring.

"We put together a lot of puzzle pieces to help every student get to where they need to be," she said."

Morris said the district has "several concerns" about the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, including the requirement for a student to repeat the third grade based solely on standardized testing without taking into account other factors.

"We've expressed our concerns to our legislators," she said.

Morris said district officials are hopeful that no students will be in jeopardy of repeating the third grade after the spring tests are completed.