Licking County News

Third-Grade Reading Guarantee

Test results 'pleased' districts

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Southwest Licking and Licking Heights school district officials said they are pleased with their third-graders' results on the Ohio Achievement Assessments.

The 50-question reading assessment is a mix of multiple choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. According to the Ohio Department of Education, scores are scaled and have a possible range of 260 to 503.

Ohio's new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee requires third-grade students who fail to reach a passing score of 392 in the fall or spring to be held back.

The ODE's goal is to eventually increase the promotion score from 392 to 400 to equal the current proficiency score of 400, according to John Charlton, associate director of media relations for the ODE.

"We were really pleased after the first year of the test," Southwest Licking Assistant Superintendent Kasey Rathburn said.

Rathburn said 279 Southwest Licking students took the third-grade reading test last school year, and 88.9 percent passed.

The initial raw data the ODE released to the public counted one more student taking the test for a total of 280.

A total of 249 students passed the test in the fall and spring, according to the ODE's data.

Of the students who didn't pass, 16 are exempt because they were on individualized education programs and 13 passed through alternate assessments.

Southwest Licking uses the Northwest Evaluation Association Measurement of Academic Progress for alternative assessments. The ODE allows third-graders who didn't pass the OAA test to be promoted after an acceptable performance on an alternate assessment.

According to the procedure, Rathburn said, students who do not pass the OAA and are not exempt would receive reading intervention through a summer reading program. Another OAA test is scheduled next week, and its results are due in August.

Rathburn said Southwest Licking's summer reading program is open to all students, and the district is focusing reading programs on second-graders to prepare them for the third-grade tests.

Early intervention provides an advantage for the students, she said.

"I feel pretty confident in our progress going into next year," Rathburn said.

Meanwhile, Licking Heights Director of Curriculum and Instruction Angel King said according to preliminary data from the ODE, 295 third-graders took the OAA and 85.4 percent, or 252, passed.

The initial raw data the ODE released to the public said 307 students took the tests, and a total of 89.6 percent, or 275, passed.

King said she couldn't say what caused the discrepancy because both figures have come from the ODE.

She did speculate that the difference could have been caused by one count including students who moved into the district too late to be part of its official enrollment figures.

According to the ODE, she said, students in grades 3-8 are counted for the standard assessments if they are in the district from the "October count week" -- when public school districts officially report their enrollments -- through May 10.

King said many of those who did not pass were exempt because they were on IEPs, and many passed through alternate assessments. Licking Heights uses the Terra Nova 3 alternate assessment plan.

Also, King said, some Licking Heights students were exempt because they have been enrolled in American schools for less than three years. However, King said, those students are progressing quickly.

"We're very pleased with their results," she said.

King said the four students who still need to pass would retake the OAA test next week

The students recently completed a summer reading intervention course and their teachers were pleased with the progress they made, King said.

"We're really proud of the third-grade team," she said. "Even with our size, we have a focus on individual students."

Of the students who passed the third-grade exams, more than 40 percent scored in the advanced level, according to Licking Heights South Elementary School Principal Kurt Scheiderer.

"I haven't seen a number that high before," he said. "I was ecstatic about that. That's not easy to do."

Scheiderer said that earlier in the year, roughly 40 percent of Licking Heights' third-graders were considered to be "not on track" going into the OAA testing, so the district hosted parents and their children in an intervention program.

Scheiderer said attendance by parents and students was excellent.

"We taught the parents how to use intervention, not just have (their children) read a couple books," Scheiderer said. "We'll definitely do that again."

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