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May 13, 2014

Duncan examines third grade testing results

DUNCAN — The reading test given to Duncan’s third-grade students shows 18 percent had unsatisfactory scores, but Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone said Monday most of those students are in special classifications for youngsters still learning English or in specialized programs for learning disabilities.

Of the Duncan third-graders taking regular curriculum, only about 8 percent received unsatisfactory scores, Stone said.

“The numbers were close to what we thought they could be,”  Stone said. “We’ve done progress monitoring, so we knew about what the numbers would be.”

In all, about 55 students (special education and traditional) out of 300 students received unsatisfactory results.   

About 14 percent (42) of third-grade students were ranked as limited knowledge and 60 percent (180) were ranked as  proficienct.

The number students who were ranked as advanced was not released.

  The reading test has remained a controversial topic among educators and in the Oklahoma Legislature.

On Monday, the Oklahoma House  passed a bill to take the reading test out of the equation in  determining if a third-grader should move on to the fourth grade.

House Bill 2625 puts less emphasis on the reading sufficiency test and more focus on whether teachers, parents and administrators think the student should be retained instead of having the test determine the result.

Stone said she was pleased with  the bill’s passage and hopes Gov. Mary Fallin signs it.

“Sometimes retention is a good move for students,” Stone said. “But those on IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), retention is not going to make them not have challenges. It should be done on an individual basis, not just one test on one day.”

Janet Barresi, state superintendent of public instruction, said she is concerned the third-grade reading test may be jettisoned.

“Today’s vote endorses a system of social promotion that has failed to reduce illiteracy and has deprived students from receiving the best education possible,” Barresi said. “Nothing is more fundamental to learning than the ability to read. The Reading Sufficiency Act can greatly improve literacy in our state, but it cannot work if it is abandoned for social promotion.”

Stone said a lot of factors can have an impact on how well students do on the reading sufficiency test.

With third grade being the first year students are introduced to standardized testing, she said including high stakes testing can be overwhelming for students and can increase their test anxiety. The reading sufficiency testing also eliminated modified testing for special education students, Stone said.

“No matter the challenges, everyone takes the same test,” she said. “A special education student takes the same test as a gifted student.”

With the return of reading sufficiency test results, Stone was positive about the future of Duncan students. She said the important thing for people to note is that 92 percent of traditional students scored above unsatisfactory, and as a result are eligible for promotion to the fourth grade.

She said she hopes the process will continue to move in a positive direction and will reduce the negative impact it makes on challenged students.


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