Hundreds of third graders in Clark and Champaign counties could be at risk for repeating third grade because they haven’t passed a state reading exam.
Of the more than 1,900 students who took the test in school districts in Clark and Champaign counties, 224 students didn’t earn a passing score — more than 1 in eight students, according to preliminary results released this week by the Ohio Department of Education.
Those students are at risk of repeating third grade unless they qualify for a waiver, or pass the state reading test or an approved alternative test this summer.
State data showed Springfield City Schools had about 81 percent of its third-grade students passing the test, meaning it ranked in the bottom 10 percent of Ohio school districts.
Superintendent David Estrop said 553 third graders took the test last school year and of those 81 percent reached the promotion score. After summer school, only 18 students were retained, he said.
This year, 552 students took the test and about 80 percent reached the promotion score, while 112 did not.
Springfield schools spokeswoman Kim Fish said the district is one of the highest poverty and mobility districts in the state and many of its students start school behind other affluent school students.
The district performs at the top among other districts in high poverty areas, she said.
“When you consider the challenges our students face — poverty, mobility, lack of stable family structure. When you consider the challenges our students begin with and the fact that we can get our students caught up after third grade, that’s phenomenal,” Fish said.
The reading test provides a snapshot in time of student performance, she said, and doesn’t show the progress students have made from kindergarten through third grade.
Statewide, 88 percent of third graders passed the reading portion of the Ohio Achievement Assessment exam , up from 63.1 percent in the fall.
“These preliminary results 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. “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 preliminary results released by the state don’t include scoring appeals or students who move in and out of the school districts, and has resulted in discrepancies between district and state numbers.
Triad Local had 70 students who took the test and 60 passed, according to the state report.
But Triad Superintendent Matt Sheridan said the district’s figures show that about 81 percent — or 64 of 76 students — passed the reading test, up from nearly 76 percent last year.
Sheridan credited the district’s increase to teachers working with students to help them excel.
“We’re moving in the right direction. I hope we can continue to improve,” he said.
Northwestern Local saw almost 96 percent of its third graders pass the test, according to the state report.
But Northwestern Local Superintendent Tony Orr said the district’s preliminary report indicates indicate that out of 113 students who took the test, only two didn’t pass.
“We’re elated with the results for the spring testing … We’re exceptionally happy with the performance of both our students and staff,” Orr said.
Northeastern Local saw 220 of its 242 students — or nearly 91 percent — pass the test, according to the state report.
Superintendent Lou Kramer said district figures indicate 85 percent of third graders passed the test, up from 58 percent in the fall.
The district is concerned about a half dozen student who have yet to pass the test. School leaders expected students to improve on the test after they went through the reading curriculum, Kramer said.
An intervention program, tutoring and other resources targeting students at risk of failing helped students improve, he said.
Nearly 90 percent of Graham Local third graders passed the test, according to the state report, which showed that 142 of the district’s 158 students met or exceeded the promotion score.
Superintendent Norm Glismann said numbers provided to the district show that out of the 157 students who took the test, nearly 83 percent passed the test.
Glismann said 42 third graders did not pass the test in the fall.
“Everybody’s shooting for 100 percent, but we just finished the second year of the new reading program. We really expect to see some gains from that,” Glismann said.
Estrop and Andie Townsend, director of elementary education, said the Springfield district plans to implement programs next year that measure learning standards and provide data that show the skills students need to work on.
Springfield staff, students, parents and volunteers are key to improving test scores, Estrop said.
“What we’re seeing here is it takes more time, but the children are able to do it,” he said.
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important education issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including how local students perform on state exams.