Upper Arlington News

Schools 'on track' with state reading requirements


No Upper Arlington students will be held back in third grade this fall, thanks in large part to individual improvement and monitoring plans and "focused intervention," according to Chief Academic Officer Emilie Greenwald.

"Our staff worked diligently this year with all students to ensure their success in reading," Greenwald said. "This included large- and small-group lessons, one-on-one instruction in some cases and focused interventions for struggling learners."

Results from the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) reading test administered last October showed 28 students at risk of being retained in third grade for scoring less than the state benchmark score of 392.

After the May 12 administration of the OAA tests, however, 380 of the 392 students tested met the benchmark score, with only 12 at risk of being retained.

Garilee Ogden, district director of accountability and professional development, said some of the 12 students did not have to be retained because of exemptions due to having individualized education programs (IEP) for special needs or were exempted because they are Limited English Proficient (LEP) students.

The other students had a higher passing score of 400 or more on the fall test or met the benchmark on the TerraNova reading tests given this spring.

Ohio's new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee requires school districts to begin evaluating all students in kindergarten through third grade to determine if they are reading at their grade level. Those who are at the correct reading level are considered "on track" and those who are not are considered "not on track" to meet reading benchmarks.

Third-graders who do not achieve the minimum reading score on the state assessments each spring are not permitted to advance to fourth grade, according to state law.

Greenwald said the district gives its own reading tests to students in kindergarten through third grade and notifies families of struggling readers. Those students are placed on reading improvement and monitoring plans.

She said classroom teachers, reading teachers and intervention specialists provide additional ongoing reading support and intervention to all students struggling with reading.

According to information on the Ohio Department of Education website, 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.

Some school district administrators, such as at Reynoldsburg City Schools, said they will consider promoting retained third-graders to fourth grade before the second semester of the 2014-15 school year, if those students meet reading benchmarks after the reading tests are administered this fall.