Nelsonville-York Hones in on Struggling 3rd Grade Readers

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Along with other school districts across the state, officials at Nelsonville-York City Schools are assessing the results from the fall Ohio Achievement Assessments to identify their struggling third-grade readers.

As previously reported, how well the students statewide do on that section when they take it again in the spring will be key in determining whether they’ll be held back a grade, as dictated in the new law called the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Of Nelsonville-York’s 95 third graders, 47 (or nearly 50 percent) did not meet the cut-off score of 392 for the reading portion of the test. Last year, the district’s third graders did much better, with 82 percent having passed.

“This is a major drop for us,” said Lindy Douglas, the district’s director of curriculum and testing, via email. “We knew scores would be low due to the new revised reading standards and the adjustments to the OAA test. This was expected.”

Students who are struggling have two more opportunities to improve their grade before facing the possibility of being held back, according to the Ohio Department of Education. The OAAs are administered a second time in the spring, and those test scores are typically higher, officials have said. ODE officials have also said they will be offering another exam for students who receive summertime instruction. Details on that exam, however, have yet to be released.

Between now and then, as dictated by the legislation, teachers are implementing various measures to help those struggling students.

“We have sent notices and spoke with parents of students who are at risk,” Douglas continued. “Students will be placed on intervention plans for this year. (Principal) Becky Dalton is working with the third-grade team on developing the interventions.”

Douglas added the district will also use computer programs to help those students get on track.

Officials have said that while the OAA is important, in actuality, it’s a first shot at an end-of-year exam. The test administered at the beginning of the year, called a diagnostic, more accurately identifies those who are struggling because it determines whether a student is on track at that time. Douglas said the district identified fewer struggling readers in the diagnostic, but the exact number was not immediately available.

Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Education