Preliminary results from the first state test designed to show how well third-graders can read show a handful of Upper Arlington students still need to meet the benchmark score of 392.
Upper Arlington City Schools received preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Education last week from the Ohio Achievement Assessment reading test administered in October. Final numbers are expected to be released Dec. 13.
Karen Truett, district director of communication, said 388 third-graders took the test. She said 53 students scored less than the state benchmark score of 392.
After taking exempted students out of that number, the district was left with 28 students who could be retained in third grade if they do not pass the test in the spring.
Exempted students are those who are following individualized education plans (IEPs), Truett said.
Ohio's new third-grade reading guarantee requires school districts to evaluate all students in kindergarten through third grade to determine if they are reading at grade level. The law also requires that students who are not doing so must start a reading improvement plan.
Third-grade students who do not achieve the minimum reading score on the state assessments by spring may not advance to fourth grade -- although there appears to be some leeway available.
Upper Arlington Chief Academic Officer Emilie Greenwald said the decision on whether to keep students in third grade if they do not improve their reading scores by spring will be determined on "a case-by-case basis."
She said some students may not have to repeat the entire third grade.
"The laws are continuing to evolve in that area," she said. "In Upper Arlington schools, we will look at our students who do not reach the benchmark and do what's best to support their learning."
Greenwald said the district did its own test of elementary students' reading ability before the state test was administered.
"Families of struggling readers were notified and those students were placed on reading improvement and monitoring plans," she said.
"Classroom teachers, reading teachers and/or intervention specialists are providing ongoing additional reading support and interventions to those students."
She said the district uses an electronic monitoring program and a developmental reading assessment for all elementary students in order to monitor and track their reading progress.
According to information on the Ohio Department of Education website at education.ohio.gov, if a student is retained in third grade for not meeting the test requirements, the school must provide a high-performing reading teacher and 90 minutes of reading instruction for that student each school day.
The student may still be able to take fourth-grade classes in all other subjects and schools are permitted to move students to fourth grade in the middle of the year if the student's reading scores improve.
Julie Nolan, principal at Windermere Elementary School, sent a letter to parents in October about the third-grade guarantee, explaining the requirements under Senate Bill 361, which passed in June 2012.
She said students are identified as "on track" or "not on track" after they take the state reading tests, then parents are notified so teachers and parents can work together to create an improvement plan.
"Teachers will monitor the improvement plan to ensure that your child's reading improves throughout the school year," she wrote to parents.