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May 11, 2014

County educators like 3rd grade reading scores

DUNCAN — Stephens County school administrators said Saturday they generally are pleased with results of the new reading tests given to third-graders to determine if they are ready for the fourth grade.

About 80 percent of third-grade students passed the test throughout the state of Oklahoma.

In Stephens County, the Bray-Doyle school district had the highest percent of third-graders who determined proficient.   With 18 of its 22 students showing  proficient reading knowledge, the district shows an 81.8 proficiency percentage.

Following Bray-Doyle  were Velma Alma 79 percent proficiency, Marlow, 70.8 percent, Central High 69.4 percent, Comanche 69.3 percent, Duncan 60 percent, and Empire 59.4 percent.

Bray-Doyle Superintendent David Eads said while his district had the highest proficiency rating, there is room for improvement.

“Obviously, we aren’t at 100 percent and that’s our goal. (Next year) I’d like to see us strive for 85-90 percent and beyond to the best of our ability,” Eads said.

Marlow Superintendent George Coffman noted that when his third-graders who scored proficient were combined with those who achieved an advanced rating, 89 percent of Marlow’s students scored well enough to advance to the fourth grade.

Advanced scores were not provided for many districts and only 2.2 percent of third-graders in Oklahoma achieved that mark.

Still, Coffman said he’s not convinced the third-grade reading test is a good idea.

“As a whole we did real well,” he said. “I just don’t think testing is the answer to everything. I think we test way too much. One test cannot measure a kid’s future.“

Shannon Williams, the elementary principal at Velma Alma,  said she was pleased with the 79.1 percent pass rate while Vicki Davison, superintendent for the Empire school district, said she wants to remain positive and hopes students, faculty and family members to do the same.

The Empire district had 59.4 percent of its third-graders  pass with proficient knowledge.

“We evaluated each one of the kids on an individual basis. Overall we are pleased,” Davison said.

“Some things aren't always in our control. We're trying to look at this as something positive and we're trying to encourage our parents and teachers that this is something positive. We look at it as just another evaluation tool to help the kids do better. We look at it as an opportunity for the kids to get stronger. It certainly doesn't reflect on children that they are a failure in anyway and it doesn't reflect on the district in a negative way. Realistically, every child is unique and every child is different. This is just something that we will have to work on,” Davison said.  

The Duncan school district had a 60 percent proficiency rate. Fourteen percent of students demonstrated limited knowledge while 18.3 percent of Duncan third-graders tested unsatisfactory.

Students who do not pass the state reading exam will be held back from promotion into the fourth grade.

However, there are six exemptions  that could potentially help students advance to the fourth grade.

Students with limited English proficiency, students with disabilities or students who have previously been held back twice and have recieved remediation can file under exempt.

In addition, students who can demonstrate their knowledge through a student portfolio or an approved, alternative reading test can also be exempt if they do not score satisfactory.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said that although work is needed in some districts, it is obvious that headway is being made with these students. She also said that she is thankful for teachers and faculty that have worked so hard to help make sure that every child is capable of reading.

“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,” Barresi said.

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