Olentangy Valley News

Olentangy Local School District

Third-graders ace state reading test

Barring exempt students, just one third-grader failed required exam

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Olentangy Local School District officials said only one student who was not exempt from the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee failed to pass this school year.

According to district records, 1,547 students took the state's Reading Achievement Test in the spring. While 27 students failed to score the required 392 points to pass the test, 26 were exempt because they were on Individualized Education Programs, had limited proficiency in English or had passed a previous standardized reading test.

Mark Raiff, the district's chief academic officer, said the results were exciting, but proved the district still has room to grow.

"I'm disappointed we had one (student who did not pass), but at the same time, I'm incredibly proud of the work that our staff and students did to get us to that point," he said.

Statewide, about 88 percent of students passed the reading test. The mandate that required third-graders to pass the test, established by the Ohio legislature, was in effect for the first time last school year.

Raiff said the student who did not pass will have the opportunity to attend sessions with the district's intervention specialists this summer.

"It's targeted, small-group instruction with a reading specialist," Raiff said of the program.

Then the student will have a third chance to pass the test before the 2014-15 school year begins.

Students will not necessarily be held back even if they do not achieve a passing score this summer. Raiff said students can advance with their class even if they fail to score 392, as long as they are still taking third-grade-level reading classes.

When the district's third-graders took the first Reading Achievement Test in the fall, 153 students who were not exempt failed to score the required 392. That represented about 10 percent of the district's third-graders.

If a student passed the first test but failed the second administration, the higher of the two scores was counted. Students will not have an opportunity to take the test in the fall next year.

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 260 to 503.

Raiff said he was not surprised the district's teachers and intervention specialists were able to improve the scores of so many students. He said the district had a tradition of individual intervention long before the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee was proposed.

"We have always identified kids in kindergarten, first and second grade for targeted intervention," he said.

About 2 percent of Olentangy students, including students who were exempt, failed to score 392 on the Reading Achievement Test in the spring. About 6 percent to 8 percent did not hit that mark in Delaware County's other school districts.

Raiff said district officials had examined the test scores of other districts, but said it was hard to make fair comparisons.

"We constantly benchmark ourselves against like districts," he said. "Unfortunately, there are just not a lot of districts in the area who are like us."

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