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Feeling the Pressure, Schools Hunker Down to Meet Third Grade Reading Guarantee

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Dan Crsoby reads to his daughters at Warner Girls Leadership Academy in Cleveland.

Dan Crsoby reads to his daughters at Warner Girls Leadership Academy in Cleveland.

The stakes are high.  This spring, most third graders who don't score at least 392 points on the Ohio Achievement Assessment won't be promoted to the 4th grade.

That's slightly higher than the score kids had to hit last year, but still below what's considered proficient.

And that's got some school districts on edge and honing in on reading with a laser focus.

In Warren not far from Youngstown, the Tribune Chronicle reports a third of Trumbull County third graders scored below proficient on the fall reading test.

That's one reason the United Way is chipping in with book giveaways, summer programs to give kids on the borderline an extra push, and programs that help parents teach their kids how to become stronger readers.

Schools in Cleveland Heights are also feeling the pressure.  The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports about 40 percent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights third grade population isn't reading at grade level.   The district has taken steps to change that, and blocks off 135 minutes each day for kids in kindergarten through third grade to devote to reading.  Officials there are also researching what they need to do to get more teachers trained to give students literacy intervention.

And as the Columbus Dispatch reports, 15 percent of third graders failed the most recent state reading test in Lancaster Schools southeast of Columbus.  Struggling readers there can now stay after school to get help in small groups.

John Charlton, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education says districts have had two years to prepare for the retention portion of the law to kick in, and a lot of school districts are making efforts to keep their third graders on track to promotion.

He says if the state does extend the OAA testing window due to an excessive number of snow days this year, the state may push to get the reading scores back earlier so parents have enough time to give their kids necessary interventions before next school year.


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