Worthington News

Achievement tests pushed back to week of May 5

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The high number of calamity days has forced Worthington City Schools to push back the state-mandated Ohio Achievement Assessment by a week.

The tests, originally scheduled for the week of April 28, will be administered instead in the week of May 5.

According to Vicki Gnezda, the district's communications director, the state is allowing schools to go outside the usual two-week window because of the lack of five-day school weeks.

"Our teachers and our kids together, we feel that the learning is ideal when we have five-day weeks," Gnezda said. "Any disruption to a five-day week is a disruption to the learning process."

The district already has used seven snow days in the 2013-14 school year.

"The reason for moving it back is just simply because it gives more instructional time because of the amount of time that we've been off," Gnezda said. "Our goal is always to do what we can to ensure students' success, so this just seemed to be the best way to handle this."

Gnezda said that to her knowledge, the district has never before moved back the dates for standardized testing because of weather.

District officials hope to take advantage of the delay to better prepare students for the tests, especially for third-graders, who face new mandates with the reading portion this year.

Under a new state law called the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students who fail the reading test in third grade won't be allowed to move on to fourth grade.

Some students, such as those with special needs, those who speak English as a second language or who pass an alternative exam, might be able to move on despite the scores, and those retained could move up to fourth grade in the middle of the school year if they are deemed ready.

Students are given practice tests throughout the school year, and although Worthington students already have practiced for their OAAs, Gnezda said, the process is much more about learning to take the test than assessing students' progress.

"The point of giving early assessments is just to make sure that the kids understand what the test will look like and to give them opportunities to practice that sort of assessment," she said. "So it's not a matter of being proud or not being proud. We're happy to give the kids as much time and as much opportunity to be prepared and to be ready for what this assessment is going to be like."

Ohio's districts are using the practice tests to gauge where third-graders are in general, too, so they can make necessary provisions to get the students on track to pass the test in the spring.

"You always want more time," Gnezda said. "But our kids will be ready."

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