Olentangy Valley News

Third-Grade Reading Guarantee

Olentangy leaders not satisfied with low failure rate

Students who failed new reading test have another chance in spring


About 10 percent of the Olentangy Local School District's third-graders could be held back if they do not boost their scores on a new state-mandated reading test.

The Third Grade Reading Guarantee, a new policy established by the Ohio Legislature, sets a benchmark in reading for all third-graders to meet. Students who fail to meet the benchmark by the end of the school year do not move on.

Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas said the district has been keeping a close eye on students who are struggling with reading and will be working with them to prepare for the next test in April.

"We've intervened with those individuals, and have been, and by the time we get to the (spring), we will have them up where they need to be," Lucas said.

Of the 1,535 Olentangy third-graders who took the Reading Achievement Test in October, 233 were graded below the passing score of 392.

Of the 233 students who failed to meet the benchmark, 80 are exempted from the reading mandate -- 62 are on individualized education programs and 18 have limited proficiency in English.

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.

Jack Fette, the district's director of curriculum and instruction, said he's not content with the district's scores.

"Acceptable is 0 (percent failing)," he said. "That's really what we're working for."

He said the district was assessing every student's reading skills and offering intervention for students who performed poorly even before the Third Grade Reading Guarantee was in place. He said the district has literacy support teachers in every elementary school and that district officials are "very confident" in their ability to help students improve their scores by the spring.

Olentangy students scored better than the three other Delaware County districts on the test.

According to numbers released Friday, Dec. 13, by the Ohio Department of Education, about 79 percent of Olentangy's students are proficient or above in reading, meaning they earned scores greater than 400. About 69 percent of third-graders were proficient or above in Big Walnut and Buckeye Valley schools, and about 64 percent were proficient or above in Delaware City Schools.

All of the county's districts fared better than the school districts in the state's most-populous cities.

Fifty-one percent of students were proficient or above in Cincinnati Public Schools, while about 44 percent hit that mark in Columbus City Schools and about 23 percent scored above 400 in Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Fette said Olentangy officials have a "total focus on our own district" and take no satisfaction in having the highest scores in the county.

He said it's important to remember no students will be held back for scoring poorly on the fall tests. That means the district has until April to prepare students for the next round of testing.