COLUMBUS -- Close to 90 percent of third-graders have earned high enough scores on school reading assessments to advance to the fourth grade, according to statistics released by state education officials Tuesday.
A total of 105,681 public school students out of 119,393 total statewide and 5,878 charter students out of 8,234 met the new third-grade reading guarantee, a total of 88.5 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively.
That's up from about 63 percent for all public and charter school students who took the reading tests in the fall.
Twenty districts reported all of their students met the testing requirement, including Ayersville Local in Defiance County, Stryker Local and Edgerton Local in Williams County, Ottoville Local and Kalida Local in Putnam County, Antwerp Local in Paulding County, Holgate Local in Henry County and Miller City-New Cleveland Local, Ottoville Local and Kalida Local in Putnam County.
Additional local scores include:
• Defiance County -- Defiance City, 92.4 percent; Hicksville Exempted Village, 95.6 percent; Northeastern Local, 92.7 percent; and Central Local, 94.5 percent.
• Henry County -- Napoleon, 86 percent; Liberty Center Local, 88.5 percent; and Patrick Henry Local, 93.2 percent.
• Paulding County -- Paulding Exempted Village, 91.9 percent; and Wayne Trace Local, 92 percent.
• Fulton County -- Wauseon Exempted Village, 99.2 percent; Archbold Local, 89.6 percent; Gorham-Fayette Local, 95 percent; and Pettisville, 94.1 percent.
• Putnam County -- Columbus Grove, 96.9 percent; Continental, 96.3 percent; Fort Jennings Local, 92 percent; Leipsic, 91.7 percent; Ottawa-Glandorf Local, 98.3 percent; and Pandora-Gilboa Local, 97.6 percent.
• Williams County -- Bryan City, 88.6 percent.
Defiance Elementary School is holding a three-week summer school starting Monday for up to 23 students who just completed the third grade and scored below 400 on the test.
According to grade 3-5 principal Jane Myers, students earning a 400 are considered proficient, while a 392 or above is considered passing and allows the student to be promoted to the fourth grade.
In Defiance, four third-graders are actually "in danger of retention."
She explained that "the focus of the summer school is on reading strategies and test-taking strategies. We will be pretty focused on reading comprehension. It's very intensive."
Teaching the students will be two third-grade teachers who have met the third-grade reading qualifications.
Myers noted that the elementary school teachers worked very hard throughout the school day, as well as during the afterschool program which was offered from November through April.
"We had students who made significant gains," said Myers. "Overall, I'm very pleased."
"It's an ongoing process," added Ayersville Elementary School principal Dr. Martin Miller. "They come in as kindergarten students and we identify who may be at risk. We take aggressive action with afterschool and Title I programs."
Fifteen Ayersville students in grades K-3 will be wrapping up a summer program this week where they are getting additional help with reading skills "to help them be successful."
Miller also gives well-deserved credit to the district's teachers and its elementary school parents in their dedication to student success.
In a released statement, Ohio Superintendent Richard Ross said, "These preliminary results show that most Ohio students have mastered the reading skills they need to be successful, but more needs to be done. 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."
A new state law requires third-graders who are not reading at grade level to be held back. Exceptions are made for students with learning disabilities and other issues.
Students have several opportunities to pass a test to pinpoint their reading levels. Two assessments are given during the regular school year, with another offered to affected students during the summer.
Those who don't meet third-grade reading proficiency are retained, with requirements for 90 minutes of reading instruction per school day.
Students can take fourth-grade classes in other subjects or advance midyear to that grade if their reading scores improve.
(Also contributing to this story was C-N education editor Jenny Derringer.)