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Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Area students score well on reading test

More than 95 percent of local third-graders pass state assessment

By Shelley Grieshop
Local results for a statewide third-grade reading test range from below average at Fort Recovery to 100 percent passage at Marion Local.
All third-grade students must earn a score of 392 on the reading portion of the Ohio Achievement Assessment to advance to fourth-grade. Students with lower scores may retake the test this summer or use one of three approved alternative assessments when deemed ready.
All 76 students at Marion Local schools achieved the 392 score.
"I am proud of our third-grade teachers and the work they did," superintendent Mike Pohlman said.
He had a unique perspective on this year's test - he's also the parent of a third-grade student.
Pohlman said he witnessed firsthand how hard teachers, students and parents worked to prepare, but he remains skeptical about the benefit of the assessment "because many of us would like to see something that measures achievement and growth as a student through multiple measures and not just a test at one point in time.
"If we are not serving the children in our community with a proper third-grade education, then I expect to hear it directly from our local taxpayers," he said. "I don't need the state telling me whether we educated our children correctly or not based off one test."
More than 95 percent of third-graders from nine districts in the Grand Lake area passed the reading assessment. The statewide average is 88 percent - up from 63.1 percent during the first round of testing last fall.
"These preliminary tests show that most Ohio students have mastered the reading skills they need to be successful, but more needs to be done," state superintendent Richard Ross said in a press release. "We need to continue and in some cases increase our efforts to ensure every boy and girl in Ohio will have the skills necessary to be lifelong learners."
The Ohio Department of Education has provided $13 million in grants to nearly 100 applicants to provide extra reading programs for students and families.
A student who remains in third grade must be given a high-performing reading teacher and 90 minutes of reading instruction each school day. He or she can still take other fourth-grade classes and can advance to the next level in the middle of the year if reading skills improve.
The 10 of 71 students who did not pass the test at Fort Recovery Local Schools will get another opportunity this summer, superintendent Shelly Vaughn said.
"Fort Recovery, like many of the other high performing districts in our area, has had high-quality intervention programs in place long before the Third Grade Reading Guarantee," she said. "We have and will continue to monitor the students receiving these interventions for continued growth and to ensure the success of these intervention programs."
Vaughn said the district next year will again provide an intervention program for all students in need, regardless of whether they passed the OAA or other alternative assessment.
More than 98 percent of third-graders at four area school districts - Coldwater, St. Henry, Minster and New Bremen - earned the required reading score to advance to fourth grade.
Coldwater Superintendent Rich Seas said he wasn't surprised that only two of 115 children in the district were not successful.
"We know our students and we know what they are capable of doing," he said.
Summer intervention will be offered to the two students who will later be retested, he said.
Seas described all assessments or tests as a "data point in time." The third-grade reading test is used as a tool to facilitate the learning process, he added.
"The test is used to identify student needs and then address those needs appropriately," he said.

Third grade reading scores:

SchoolTook/PassedPercent Passed
Fort Recovery71/6185.9
St. Henry67/6698.5
St. Marys158/14893.7
New Bremen61/6098.4

Test data released by the Ohio Department of Education do not include results of alternative assessments taken by students or students who are exempt from taking the Ohio Achievement Assessment.
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