Nearly every Westerville third-grader is a successful reader, guaranteed.

Nearly every Westerville third-grader is a successful reader, guaranteed.

Based on state testing results, 98.3 percent of Westerville third-graders meet the state's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee requirement.

Third-graders were assessed primarily on Ohio Achievement Assessments in the fall and in the spring, and TerraNova 3 Complete Battery Reading Test in the spring. These tests indicate if students are hitting goals and on track for expected reading successes.

Of the 1,079 third-graders tested at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, only 19 students remain below benchmark scores. That translates to about 1.7 percent of students still struggling to meet state requirements. They have another chance to take the test this summer and will be retained in third grade for reading courses if they don't pass.

Westerville City School District Superintendent John Kellogg said he expected a high passing rate because the district provides an ample amount of support for students.

"The district has always had a focus on early intervention at the elementary level," Kellog said. "Literacy is a key component to that.

"There is still work to be done, but it's not a surprise that we are doing well."

In October, 1,079 students took the fall 2013 reading OAA. Prior to any third-grade level education, roughly 23.8 percent of students -- or 256 students -- scored the passing mark of 392.

The test is 50 questions, with a mix of multiple choice, short-answer and extended-answer questions. The scores are scaled and, according to the Ohio Department of Education, the possible range of scores is 260 to 503.

The spring's assessment showed significant improvement. After almost a year of third-grade education and reading instruction, 1,066 students were tested in May and only 5.5 percent of students did not reach a score of 392 or higher.

Students had another chance to meet state requirements with the TerraNova 3 Complete Battery Reading Test. Although 256 scored below the requirement, 20 were special education students and excused from Third-Grade Reading Guarantee requirements. Of the 236 students tested May 8, only 24 remained below the requirements.

However, five of those 24 students obtained a score of 392 or greater on the OAA, which means they met reading guarantee requirements.

The district is working with parents and students from kindergarten to third grade who opted into summer intervention programs to help boost reading skills.

Scott Ebbrecht, district coordinator of assessment and alternative education services, said 98 percent passing is not enough.

"We want to get at 100 percent, which is why we keep on the summer intervention program," he said.

The district sent home invitation letters to parents of students who might be lagging in reading.

More than 100 primary level students accepted the invitation and are receiving additional help to improve reading skills.

"Our focus this summer was to provide something different than regular school because regular school hasn't always been a successful route for some of these kids," said Melissa Krempasky, summer school principal and teacher at Emerson Elementary School.

Summer intervention programs for reading are at Hawthorne Elementary School. The school's halls are quiet as students are actively engaged in various reading activities.

Classes utilize one-on-one teacher or volunteer instruction, and various web-based and iPad programs that identify a student's reading level and provide them with additional practice.

Through summer intervention programs, teachers hope to identify some reading barriers and help students overcome them.

"It's kind of like a piece of Swiss cheese with some holes missing. We try to fill in the holes to make the reading process all together," Krempasky said.

Overall, teachers have noticed students' improvement as they learn with technology and in reduced class sizes. The district also hopes to maintain the digital technology in the classrooms once regular classes are back in session.

These tools help students improve during summer school.

"This is trying to get them caught up to where they need to be," said Angie Heath, third-grade teacher at Emerson and a summer intervention educator.

By the end of third grade, students should be able to read. That is, they should understand and utilize the basic reading skills. From fourth grade and on, students read for information and do not break down phonics and lexicon.

"In primary grades, you are learning how to read. As you get older, you are then reading to learn," Ebbrecht said.

Today, Thursday, June 26, third-graders can take the TerraNova tests again, and July 8 take the OAA Reading exams.

District leaders and summer intervention teachers think the students will succeed.

"We're hoping we're going to pick up a lot more here (after these tests)," Ebbrecht said.