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May 19, 2013

Area beats state average on school reading test

Administrators credit reading blocks, tutoring services

LOGANSPORT — Area education administrators are crediting daily reading blocks, regular monitoring throughout the school year and tutoring services for third graders’ above-average performance in a statewide reading test after several schools in the area saw an increase in scores from last year.

2013 marks the second year in a row the Indiana Department of Education has administered the IREAD-3 test to third graders, checking students’ vocabulary, reading comprehension and word recognition.

School administrators in the area said state measures requiring a 90-minute block of reading each day for kindergarten through third grade made a positive impact on students’ performances.

Students who didn’t pass the test will have the opportunity to enroll in a two-week program this summer before taking the test again, elementary school principals in the area said.

Should they fail a second time, they have the option to go on to the fourth grade, but will have to receive third grade reading instruction. Exemptions are made for students in special education and those who do not speak English as their first language.

Three hundred of Logansport’s third graders at the city’s four elementary schools — Franklin, Fairview, Landis and Columbia — took the test. Of those, 234 passed, for a corporation-wide 78 percent pass rate, down from last year’s 84.8 percent.

Michele Starkey, superintendent of Logansport School Corp., said 13 students will be retaking the test. Others who did not pass received an exemption available to students in special education or do not speak English as their first language.

“This grade level has a high level of ELL,” Starkey said, referring to English language learners.

Some 42 percent of Fairview’s third graders are ELL, along with 22 percent at Franklin, 42 percent at Landis and 31 percent at Columbia.

All Saints Catholic School in Logansport had a pass rate of 95 percent after 19 of its 20 third-graders passed the test.

Eastern Pulaski Schools Superintendent Bob Klitzman said three of the corporation’s third-graders will be taking the test over this summer. Last year, all the students who had to take it over passed, he said.

“I feel confident the kids are very close,” Klitzman said. “It’s not like we have to go back to the drawing board.”

Klitzman went on to say third-graders receive targeted assessment throughout the year to determine what areas of reading they need to work on.

Eastern Pulaski Elementary School had a pass rate of 90.4 percent, according to the results.

Several schools in the area saw a rise in their scores. Thompson Elementary School in Walton received a pass rate of 88.5 percent out of the 87 students that took the test, up more than 4 percentage points from last year.

“We’re pretty pleased overall,” said Dennis Ide, principal of the school. “We had a goal of 90 percent and made it almost to 89, so we’re pretty happy with that.”

Along with the 90-minute reading blocks, Pioneer Elementary School in Royal Center also employs literacy coaches, aides and one-on-one work with parent volunteers for students preparing for the test, said Principal Beth Dean. The school’s pass rate was 89.6 percent for the 77 students who took the test.

“We kind of had a feeling the kids would do well,” Dean said. “They have great teachers and they work hard.”

Caston Elementary School in Fulton saw its pass rate jump more than seven points to 98.1 percent this year, with 53 of 54 students passing the test.

Ana Ave, principal at Delphi Community Elementary School, said the school offers after-school tutoring at no cost to parents, which students can take advantage of in order to ensure they’re prepared for the test. Of the 119 students that took the test, 95 percent of them passed, up about 7 percentage points from last year.

Carroll Elementary School in Flora received a pass rate of 88.2 percent of the 85 students who took the test.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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