Sixteen percent of Oklahoma’s third-graders earned unsatisfactory scores on statewide reading tests and risk repeating a grade, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
The Department of Education released figures Friday from this year’s third-grade reading tests, which will help determine which students will enter fourth grade in the fall. About 80 percent of third-graders across the state are eligible for promotion based on their scores on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test.
Four percent did not take the test for various reasons, including absences.
Starting this year, third-graders who perform poorly on the test will not be allowed to advance to fourth grade unless they qualify for a “good-cause exemption” or demonstrate the ability to read at second-grade level or higher.
State law allows exemptions for students with disabilities, those learning English as a second language and those who have already been held back twice.
Students with unsatisfactory scores can brush up on their skills over the summer by taking alternative tests or attending reading academies. They can avoid repeating a grade if they demonstrate basic reading skills, either through improved test scores or through a portfolio of their work.
Friday’s numbers showed that Oklahoma is moving in the right direction, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said in a news release.
“The strong numbers for proficient readers attest to the hard work and tenacity of our children and their teachers,” she said. “In the three years since the enactment of the RSA’s (Reading Sufficiency Act’s) retention portion, teachers have devoted countless hours and lent their expertise to improving reading instruction to children. They have done superbly.”
A 1997 state law requires school districts to conduct standardized reading tests at the start of kindergarten through third grade. Districts must develop plans for helping students who have problems with reading skills.
A 2011 law amended the Reading Sufficiency Act said third-graders cannot move on to the fourth grade if they earn unsatisfactory scores on high-stakes reading tests. The policy change began with the 2013-14 school year.
The tests actually show whether Oklahoma’s third-graders can read at a first-grade level, said Alex Weintz, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin.
“It’s very difficult to imagine a fourth grader who can’t read at a first grade level succeeding,” he said. “So our goal now that we’ve identified those students that are falling behind is to get them up to where they need to be as quickly as possible.”
Here are the numbers for Ada-area school districts:
• Ada: 27 out of 188 students, or 14.4 percent, received unsatisfactory scores. Thirty-two students demonstrated limited reading skills, and 115 earned proficient ratings.
The number of students who earned advanced scores or did not post scores due to their status was not available.
• Allen: 25 out of 33 students, or 75.8 percent, demonstrated reading proficiency. Additional numbers were not available.
• Byng: Ten out of 135 students, or 7.4 percent, received unsatisfactory scores. Eleven demonstrated limited skills, and 93 earned proficient ratings.
Eleven students received advanced ratings, and another 10 did not post scores due to their status.
• Coalgate: Nineteen out of 36 students, or 52.8 percent, demonstrated reading proficiency. Additional numbers were not available.
• Konawa: Thirty-four out of 48 students, or 70.8 percent, earned proficient ratings. Additional numbers were not provided.
• Latta: Eleven out of 66 students, or 16.7 percent, demonstrated limited reading skills. Forty-three students received proficient ratings, and additional numbers were not available.
• Roff: Nineteen out of 29 students, or 65.5 percent, earned proficient ratings. Additional numbers were not available.
• Stonewall: Sixteen out of 31 students, or 51.6 percent, demonstrated reading proficiency. Additional numbers were not available.
• Stratford: Ten out of 51 students, or 19.6 percent, earned unsatisfactory scores. Thirty-one students demonstrated reading proficiency, and additional numbers were not available.
• Vanoss: Thirty-six out of 48 students, or 75 percent, earned proficient ratings. Additional numbers were not available.
EDITOR’S NOTE: CNHI capitol bureau chief Janelle Stecklein contributed to this report.