Area schools work toward Third Grade Guarantee

Schools in the area and around the state are putting more emphasis on reading standards for grades kindergarten through the third grade, which is considered the foundation age.

“By the time students are in the third grade, we are hoping that they have the basics,” said Cynthia Caldwell, principal at Jefferson Elementary in Shadyside. “K-3 is when (students) acquire strong phonic skills …. the beginning basics.”

Gov. John Kasich had state legislators pass Senate Bill 316, which states, “that starting with students entering third grade 2013-14, schools cannot promote students who score below certain levels on the state reading test.”

Schools such as Shadyside and Martins Ferry have started to put plans in place to improve the reading skills of students. Since the beginning of the school year, teachers for grades K-3 have been preparing students for diagnostic assessments. A diagnostic assessment is to test if the student is reading at grade level by the end of the year. These assessments were completed by Sept. 30.

Schools are doing the assessments now in the 2012-2013 school year to start putting a plan in place for the next year. In the next school year, 2013-2014, those who are not on target will be retained.

Since the retention policy does not start until the next school year, the current diagnostic test gives teachers an idea where their students test as far as reading levels and what he or she needs to do to better improve the classes or individuals reading plans.

“Anytime we can provide intense instruction is a positive,” said Caldwell.

Martins Ferry’s elementary principal Jim Fogle, like other schools in the Ohio Valley, has implemented several aspects of the Third Grade Guarantee.

“I understand where Gov. Kasich is coming from. Anything that will help kids get on track, I’m all for it,” said Fogle.