SIDNEY — 100 percent passage rate … that was the news the Sidney City Schools District received from the Ohio Department of Education about the reading test results for the district’s third-grade students.
“The third-grade reading guarantee requires the students to meet a 392 cut score on the OAA reading test,” said Sidney Curriculum Coordinator Brooke Gessler.
With six students retaking the test in July, all 257 third-grade students in the district passed the reading test and were promoted to the fourth-grade.
Both Gessler and Superintendent John Scheu were thrilled that all of the students had passed the test.
“The simple fact is that this is very significant with our district size and demographics,” said Scheu.
Gessler credits the parents of the students who attended the summer reading boot camp for their children’s successful passage of the test.
“The six students came to camp for five days in July,” said Gessler. “They cam because their parents brought them. I am very appreciative of that support.”
The summer program was taught by third-grade teacher Kay Straman and she was assisted by aide Judith Shepherd.
“Kay facilitated the weeklong program,” said Gessler. “The students attended it from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day.”
Gessler said the focus of the week was on the weaknesses of each student.
“We were able to pull the areas of weakness based on the spring testing,” said Gessler. “The students had three hours of intensive work every day.
“It was huge that the parents worked with us to get the kids here everyday,” she said.
“This was a cumulative effort from the beginning of the year,” said Scheu. “The teachers got together and planned for the test.”
Gessler said the Title 1 reading and regular classroom teachers worked together during the year to help the students succeed.
With the first year of the third-grade reading guarantee behind her, Gessler said she wouldn’t change any portion of the curriculum program.
“We had an afterschool program and teachers worked on what the second graders had learned going into third grade,” said Gessler. “This was really a K-3 effort. There’s not anything right now that I’d change.”
Gessler said a large reason for the students’ success dealt with the communication between the parents and school district during the year.
“We were in constant communication with the parents starting in September last year,” said Gessler. Letters and newsletters were sent home to the parents stressing the importance of the test their child would be taking during the year.
“One of the positives with this new mandate was it has the potential to bring the parents and school closer together,” said Gessler. “We both had one goal — for each child to go from third-grade to fourth-grade.”
Scheu said no one likes to see more tests added to the curriculum, but the third-grade reading guarantee was a necessary one.
“When they looked at the number of kids not reading in the fourth grade, the state had to do something,” said Scheu.
“I think,” said Scheu, “in time over the next several years, you’re going to see the impact of what all-day kindergarten has done for our students. This year’s second-grade class is the first class to attend to all-day kindergarten
“I’m encouraged that all-day kindergarten will be beneficial to the school district in time,” he said.
Gessler said the implementation of the Phonics First program has also enhanced the district’s classes. All teachers are required to be trained for the program.
Students in Jackson Center and Fairlawn Local School Districts also achieved the 100 percent passage rate after the summer test was administered.Results from Anna and Hardin-Houston weren’t available at press time.
Third-grade students in Botkins, Fort Loramie and Russia had all passed the test before school was dismissed for the summer.