West Side News

Board to vote on third-grade guarantee plan

The state is requiring all school districts to implement the plan for 2013-14


The South-Western Board of Education is expected to vote on a number of new and revised policies at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The board held first readings of the policies at its Jan. 14 meeting. The new policies include adopting the new "Third-Grade Reading Guarantee" the state is requiring districts to implement for the 2013-14 school year.

The guarantee states that starting with next year's third-grade class, schools cannot promote to fourth grade students who score below a certain level on the state reading achievement test. The threshold score is just below the actual passing score on the test.

The policy states that students will be evaluated as being either "on track" or "not on track" after they take a diagnostic assessment by Sept. 30 of each school year.

"Not on track" means the student is not reading at the expected level for third grade.

Parents of "not on track" students will receive notice of the evaluation and an explanation of the services being provided to the student and proposed supplemental instruction services. Parents also will be told that unless their child attains an appropriate level of reading competency by the end of third grade, they will not be promoted to fourth grade.

The district will immediately begin reading intervention for students not on track, develop a reading improvement and monitoring plan within 60 days of the reading deficiency being identified, and provide each student with teachers who have either passed a reading instruction test or have a reading endorsement on their teaching license.

Students can still be promoted if they are learning English, receiving special education services or have passed a state-approved alternative reading test. They also can be promoted if they previously have shown deficiencies in reading, been held back and received additional help.

Other policies the board is expected to adopt on Jan. 28 include a new provision providing whistleblowers protection from discipline, retaliation or reprisal.

The board will also be voting on revising employment policies to remove the requirement that any applicant under final consideration for a position in the district must complete a form demonstrating they have not provided material assistance to a terrorist organization.