Preliminary results from October's Ohio Achievement Assessment show 27 percent of third-grade students in the South-Western City School District did not pass the reading test, putting them at risk of being held back next year.
Under Ohio's new "Third Grade Reading Guarantee" those students who do not pass the reading test when it is given again in the spring will not be promoted to fourth grade.
A total of 1,505 South-Western third grade students took the test in the fall and 411 did not pass the test, district officials said.
Last spring, 18.73 percent of that year's third grade class failed the reading test after taking it a second time.
This school year is the first time students will not be promoted to fourth grade if they do not pass the third-grade reading test.
The district will be redoubling its intervention efforts to help make sure as many students as possible can pass the reading test in the spring, Executive Director of Elementary Schools Brian Bowser said.
"This is good information for us as we continue to plan a learning environment that will help all of our students reach their maximum potential," he said.
The district's effort to strengthen instructional focus will include accelerating students' progress through guided instruction, Bowser said.
Teachers will be working to determine the most appropriate way to help each third-grader improve reading skills, he said.
The district also is increasing instruction for writing and written response and increasing the time spent on literacy instruction with a focus on writing, Bowser said.
"Our focus always is on what students need to reach their next level of growth and to come up with a plan that allows them to grow to their full potential," he said.
"We want to get all of our students at least up to the third-grade level by the end of third grade."
The reality, though, is that some students will not be able to reach the reading benchmark and will have to be retained in third grade, Bowser said.
The state is still working out alternative ways students can reach the reading benchmark, Bowser said.
Formal release of the third-grade test data is expected Friday, Dec. 13.
The South-Western school board held first reading Dec. 12 of a replacement policy that includes revisions to the district's program to assess students' reading skills and to create an individualized reading improvement and monitoring plan, including intervention, for students not on track to meet the reading benchmark.