3rd grade reading test: Almost 30% of Oklahoma City students reading below grade level

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Public Schools officials just released the results of the third grade reading test.

Scores: 3rd grade reading test scores by district

The state’s largest school districts are facing serious challenges.

According to the report, 28.9 percent of Oklahoma City’s third graders and 32.7 percent of Tulsa’s scored “unsatisfactory.”

However, officials said nearly 80 percent of the state’s third grade students who took the reading test will move on to the fourth grade.

Only students who scored “unsatisfactory,” reading at a first grade level or below, are being held back.

Students who scored in the “limited knowledge” category are still reading below grade level (second grade reading level) however, they will be allowed to advance to fourth grade.

Third grade mom Carissa Traut says, “We got a call from her teacher today that she passed! So she`s going to go on to fourth grade! It’s like a burden has been lifted off of our family, off of me, off of my child.”

For many Oklahoma parents that phone call might not be the same.

Test scores show almost 30% of Oklahoma City third graders are reading below grade level.

But there is still hope for those who didn’t pass to move on to the 4th grade.

Some students will receive exemptions and others will take alternate tests, attend summer classes, or show teacher portfolios of their improvement in order to move on.

Traut says, “We were just the lucky group of third graders I guess that this fell upon.”

Kelli Chastain with Putnam City Schools spends the most time with students who need a little extra help.

“They’re third grade! They’re itty bitty,” says Chastain. “If one of them were to find out they didn’t pass, I don’t know what it’s going to do to them.”

She isn’t convinced these scores tell the truth about her students.

“I’m not so certain that one day, one test is a good measure,” says Chastain. “I think all educators know that the research is clear about retention. It’s really not the answer.”

It’s going to be heartbreaking to some, not moving up with their friends.

Traut says good luck to second grade parents who have this to look forward to next year.

“I feel like all my child learned this year was how to take a test,” says Traut. “I cannot wait for this year to be over. This has been a year from hell.”

My child is being retained, now what?

Schools are now in the process of determining which students qualify for the law’s “good cause” exemptions allowing them to progress to fourth grade even if they didn’t pass the test.

Is my child eligible for an exemption?

Students who scored “unsatisfactory” now have the summer to take alternate tests and attend summer reading academies.

Teachers can also provide portfolios of a child’s work to show he or she can read at grade level.

“Nothing is more fundamental to a child’s education than the ability to read and it is our responsibility to educators to see to it that all children have the resources necessary to gain this vital skill before they slip further and further behind,” State Superintendent Janet Barresi said. “We are moving in the right direction,” Barresi said.

MORE: Parents’ guide to Oklahoma’s third grade reading test

Starting Monday, Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) literacy staff and REAC3H Coaches will be manning telephone hotlines for educators and parents who have questions concerning the application of the RSA.

Parents and community members can call (405) 521-3774 to leave comments or questions.

What are the exemptions? Is my child eligible?

RSA provides six “good cause” exemptions for some students who score Unsatisfactory on the reading test:

– English Language Learners who have had less than two years of instruction in English and are identified as Limited-English Proficient (LEP)/ English Language Learner (ELL) on a screening tool approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Bilingual/Migrant Education and have a Language Instruction Educational Plan (LIEP) in place prior to the administration of the third-grade criterion referenced test; and the student must have had less than two years of instruction in an English Language Learner (ELL) program.

– Students with disabilities whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) indicates they are to be assessed with the Oklahoma Alternate Assessment Program (OAAP).

– Students who demonstrate an acceptable level of performance (minimum of 45th percentile) on an alternative standardized reading test approved by the State Board of Education (SAT 10, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, Terranova).

– Students who demonstrate through a teacher- developed portfolio that they can read on grade level. The student portfolio shall include evidence demonstrating the student’s mastery of the Oklahoma state standards in reading equal to grade-level performance on the reading portion of the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT).

– Students with disabilities who take the OCCT and have an IEP that states they have received intense remediation in reading for more than two years but still demonstrate a deficiency in reading and were previously retained one year or were in a transitional grade during kindergarten, first-, second- or third-grade.

– Students who have received intensive remediation in reading for two or more years but still demonstrate a deficiency in reading and who already have been retained in kindergarten, first-grade, second-grade or third-grade for a total of two years.  Transitional grades count.