The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

December 12, 2013

Results in for preliminary third-grade reading test

Ashtabula County administrators say poor scores are normal, will drastically improve by spring

While more than a third of Ohio third-graders failed the state reading test in October, local administrators say the scores are normal and will drastically improve by the spring.

Seventy-eight percent of Kingsville Elementary third-graders scored proficient or above on the October Ohio Achievement Assessment, said Principal Traci Landis. “Last year we had 76 percent, so for the third year we’re continuing to climb since we’ve come together with North Kingsville. In 2011 it was 64 percent.

“We still have a ways to go, but it is an end-of-the-year test, so we stress that to students to relieve some of their anxiety,” she said. “We don’t put a lot of emphasis on the testing; we put emphasis on learning. We focus on teaching reading skills and strategies.”

“I think that it helps when it comes to the test because they are used to using the strategies and skills,” Landis said. “Reading should be fun. We read for entertainment; we read for information. We don’t read for tests.”

Landis said she is pleased with the amount of proficient scores because the test covers material that will be covered throughout the course of the third-grade year.

Jefferson Elementary students scored similar to Kingsville,  with 72 percent of students passing. “We usually score between 70 and 80 percent,” said Principal Todd Tulino. “We’re going to continue providing interventions to these students who did not pass. They took the test in October and they’d only been in school a month, taking their first state achievement test. I think they did pretty good right out of the gate.”

Rock Creek Elementary’s scores were not readily available, but Principal Larry Meloro said, “The fall scores are an end-of-the-year test taken after the first month of school, so it’s pretty normal for us to be around 65 or 70 percent. What really matters is how they are doing at the end of the year.”

Forty-three percent of Pymatuning Valley Primary third-graders scored proficient or above, said Principal Billie Fusco. “The scores were in the ballpark of what they normally are for fall. It’s stuff they will learn in third grade. It’s third-grade material being tested before the students have learned it, so the scores will increase.

“The more accurate scores will be from the April/May test. I just look at the fall test as a benchmark. Don’t weigh too much on the assessment, but look at the end result after they’ve been taught the material,” she said.

Of Geneva Area City third graders from Cork Elementary, Austinburg Elementary, and Geneva Platt R. Spencer Elementary, 56 percent were proficient or above, said Assistant Superintendent Brett Horvath. “We really don’t look at the first test,” he said. “They have the whole year to learn the third-grade curriculum. We are sure that we will be improving on the April test.”

Sixty-one percent of Grand Valley Elementary third-graders scored proficient or above, said Principal Ellen Winer, which is three points higher than last year. “If you look at our spring scores, typically we score in the very high 80s or in the 90s. We use this fall assessment as a gauge. The scores usually line up with the assessments we’ve already done.”

She said at Monday’s board meeting, they will hire the new reading intervention tutor for third and fourth grade. She said, “Every one of our teachers does guided reading, so children read at their level. It’s a research-based method, and our teachers are very skilled.”

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