Dayton finds 43 percent of 3rd graders not reading proficient

Third grader at Edison Elementary School develops her reading skills ahead of statewide third grade reading guarantee test. (WDTN, Beairshelle Edmé)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Last year, about 40 percent of Dayton Public School (DPS) students failed the state third grade reading test. To prep for it this year, the district gave its students the STAR test in the first two weeks of the school year.

2 NEWS is following up the story 2 NEWS Reporter Beairshelle Edmé first brought you in August that these tests would be administered by the district.

After staying on top of her report, Tuesday, Edmé learned 43 percent are not at the appropriate reading level.

DPS has a month to get these kids ready for the state test, but the larger focus is their academic and personal successes, often based on the core reading skill they learn in this third year of schooling.

A new state regulation means that Ohio third graders who don’t pass the reading guarantee tests could be held back.

Third graders have two tries, the Fall and Spring reading guarantee test, to show they are reading proficient. If they have failed, Dayton provides a Summer program where the students again have the chance to be tested.

By the third time, if the students have not passed as reading proficient, then they will be held back. As a repeat third grade, if the student passes the test, the district can push the child to the fourth grade mid-year.

“We’re not satisfied with that (43 percent). We want to make it better,” Executive Director of Curriculum Instruction Bob Buchheim acknowledged.

Asked what plans the district had in place to bolster the reading skills of those 43 percent of students, Buchheim detailed, “We use a reading group program and we brought an adoption this year called ‘Reading Wonders’. It’s tremendous and our teachers have been professionally trained on it. It allows for teachers to be able to put students in groups based on their reading skills.”

Edison Elementary third grade teacher Jessica Reese focuses on encouraging her students to be comfortable and confident.

2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé joined her class during a group’s time focused specifically on developing the reading of those students who are at level L, out of A to Z.

She asked the group of eight if they liked reading. All eight raised their hands to say yes, although the last student to raise his hand appeared to reluctantly joined the crowd.

When Edmé asked why they enjoyed reading, one student replied, “because it makes you smarter.”

But the kids also admitted that reading can be hard.

One girl enthusiastically volunteer to tell Edmé why the subject can be difficult.

“You struggle and you know the word and when you read it fast if you stutter a lot– when you read too fast that’s when you start stuttering and mess up on a word,” she explained, quite proud of her clear analysis given on behalf of her peers.

We asked Reese what’s the toughest part of the task of making sure here kids are reading-proficient.

“Really the toughest part is we want to do what’s best for the kids and we need to get them reading and we need to do it in a way that’s not stressful to our kids,” she said. “There’s a lot of testing that goes on this year and the stakes are high for both the teachers, the school district and the kids. Trying to get them to understand how important it is for them to read and do well on the test, but at the same time not stressing them out and fear that test– that’s constantly– that’s all we talk about is that test. We want to make sure that we do what’s developmentally appropriate, getting them to read at their own speed and what’s appropriate for them.”

The educator says all she wants is for her kids to be successful.

She thinks one test can’t measure that, but she’s confident their skills will develop over time.

Third graders across Ohio will be tested from November 30 to December 11.

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