By Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: As many as a third of Ohio third-graders scored below a new literacy target in fall reading test results released Friday, providing the first view of how many may be at risk of failing a grade this year.
Under the state’s new Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet tough new reading targets.
State results posted Friday showed 32,905 students, or 26.2 percent of those who took the fall reading test, showed limited proficiency, which misses the new mark. About half of the 21,177 students who showed basic proficiency also will fall below what’s been dubbed the “cut score” for passing third grade, officials said.
That puts more than 34 percent of the roughly 125,000 third-graders who participated at risk.
State officials had anticipated that many students would not have met the targets by the time they took tests in October, near the start of the school year. Students will be tested again in six months.
State Superintendent Richard Ross urged families socked with seemingly bad news to take the long view.
“My message really is what happens later. What happens in real life if they aren’t able to read?” he told reporters in a Thursday briefing on the coming results.
Officials say students who lag new reading standards at year’s end will have the chance to re-take reading in the summer. Those still lagging targets after completing summer programs could advance to fourth grade even midyear once targets are met.
“As we’ve stated, this is really looking at readiness and competency and moving our students forward when they demonstrate that they are on track and on target for success,” said Sasheen Phillips, senior executive director for the state’s Center for Curriculum and Assessment.
“Promoting a child in an area when they are not ready does not put them at an advantage,” she said.
Phillips said the state will use the results to identify students who could benefit from early intervention and other support.
The Ohio Department of Education has posted a host of online literacy resources for families and educators. Those include INFOhio’s BookFLIX, which pairs classic video storybooks with related non-fiction e-books, interactive reading games and tips for teaching reading through everyday activities.
Ohio was among 10 states to enact education law revisions last year to look at early literacy development and early reading success as benchmarks to judge long-term state educational achievement, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
State lawmakers revised the law this spring to make more teachers temporarily eligible to participate in helping students meet the new standards after educators raised concerns that they didn’t have adequate staff to meet its requirements.