West Side News

More students pass third-grade reading test

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Eleven of the 16 elementary schools in the South-Western City School District increased the number of their students who earned at least a proficient score on the state third grade reading achievement test administered in October.

Patrick Callaghan, the district's executive director of elementary education, reported on the results of the third grade test at the district Board of Education meeting Monday, Dec. 10.

The percentage of South-Western students with a proficient or better score jumped by 4.04 points over last year's fall test results, Callaghan said.

"I'm always happy to see our elementary schools are getting better year after year," he said. "This is the highest percent (of students scoring proficient or better) we've had" on the test given at the beginning of the year.

Of the 11 schools that saw improved results, four increased their proficient or better scores by 10 percent or more, four increased between 1 and 10 percent and three schools increased by less than 1 percent, Callaghan said.

Five schools saw a decrease in the number of their students reaching the proficient level, he said.

These were schools with a much higher turnover rate and number of new students and they had more youngsters with language delays or who are English as a Second Language students, Callaghan said.

Students must earn at least a 400 score on the test to reach the proficient level, and 50.38 percent of South-Western's third graders scored 400 or better on the test in its October administration, he said.

The October administration of the reading test is a "practice" exam, although if a student passes the test, it counts, Callaghan said.

The test given early in the school year "is a gauge" for the "race" the district is running to make its third graders proficient in reading for their grade level, he said.

"It tells us how close we are to the finish line not too long after we start the race," Callaghan said.

Ohio's "Third Grade Reading Guarantee" will begin next year.

Under the guarantee, districts will not be able to promote to fourth grade students who score below 392 on the state reading test. The cut-off for the guarantee is slightly below the 400 score needed to actually pass the test.

The October test results show that if the guarantee was in effect this year, 60.6 percent of the district's third graders would already have reached the 392 threshold needed to move on to fourth grade, Callaghan said.

The reading test will be given again in late April, he said.

Financial review

In other business Dec. 10, Treasurer Hugh Garside presented an annual financial review for the fiscal year running July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. The report is an overview providing a snapshot of the fiscal year.

Garside said he waited until the state audit of the district was nearly completed to present the review.

"I expect we will have a clean audit," he said.

State funding provides about 53 percent of the district's general fund revenues, Garside said, adding that much of that state funding depends on the economy.

Local real estate taxes provide 41 percent of the district's revenue and 32 percent of the real estate taxes come from commercial and industrial properties, he said.

"We have a solid commercial base" in the district, Garside said.

As for expenditures, 73 cents of every dollar the district spends goes to instruction or instructional support, he said.

Administration costs take up about 10 percent of district spending, but that includes salaries for principals which some would argue could be considered an instruction expense, Garside said.

Plant maintenance and transportation take up a total of 14 percent of the budget and extracurricular spending only makes up about 1 percent, he said.

South-Western compares favorably to other Franklin County school districts, ranking 11th among 16 in its effective millage, including permanent improvement and bond levies, Garside said.

If only operating millage is considered, the district ranks 12th, he said. South-Western ranks 14th in per pupil expenditures.

More complete district financial information, including the five-year forecast and its comprehensive annual financial reports are available by clicking on the financial information link on the district's website, swcs.us, Garside said.

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