Hudson -- According to results from the state's third-grade reading assessment exam, McDowell Elementary School students finished third in Summit County with 77.9 percent of the students testing proficient or above. Only Revere, at 87 percent, and Twinsburg, at 81 percent, finished higher.
"I am very proud of our students and thankful to our families. They come to school ready to learn," Assistant Superintendent Doreen Osmun said Dec. 13. "Our teachers, principals, and staff work tirelessly to provide the best instruction based on individual student's needs. The results reflect the strong literacy teaching we have in our early grades."
The Ohio Department of Education released the results Dec. 12 from the exams administered in October.
The Ohio Achievement Assessments are connected to legislation signed into law last year by Gov. John Kasich that requires third-graders to be held back if they are not able to read at an appropriate level.
They are part of the federal accountability requirements and are given to third-grade students twice a year -- in October and April.
"These results are used to inform instruction and literacy intervention and enrichment," Osmun said.
If the students fail the October exam, they can take it again in April or during the summer.
Students who do not pass the assessment can possibly be retained in third-grade reading instruction, if determined "not on track" by the scores, Osmun said.
"We know retention rarely works, so it is our intention to work diligently with teachers, students, and families," Osmun added. "Each student must be considered an individual learner and we are committed to that child's success. That is an expectation that we have in education, and especially, Hudson."
And while Hudson third-graders performed well on the exam, Osmun does not feel the test should be the sole determining factor on whether a student is retained.
"I feel very strongly that one test should not dictate that a student be retained in any grade level," Osmun explained. "Eight- and 9-year-olds are still growing and developing; students can have a bad day, test anxiety, and the list goes on. Best practice indicates using several points of data so we can make the best decisions."
According to the ODE, almost 57 percent of Ohio's public school students scored at least proficient.
However, state education officials want more done to ensure students are reading at the appropriate grade level and not promoted year after year just to remain with their peers.
"I think it's really urgent -- beyond urgent -- that we invest in this issue," State Superintendent Richard Ross told reporters during an afternoon conference call Dec. 12. "The problem we have, it's not going to be a short-term solution."
Sasheen Phillips, senior executive director at ODE's Center for Curriculum and Assessment, said Dec. 12 the reading guarantee is aimed at helping students learn to read at grade level, not necessarily to force them to repeat the third grade.
"What happens in real life if they aren't able to read?" Ross asked. "... What happens is the third-grader that's socially promoted ends up falling further behind. ... Sometimes, when they're 16 and 17 years old or even 15 years old, they just don't show up one day. They just fade away, out of sight, out of mind, into a future that is bleak. That must stop."
Kasich has touted the new reading guarantee in speeches, saying it's important to ensure students are proficient in earlier grades before moving on to lessons in advanced ones.
Capital Bureau Chief Marc Kovac contributed to this report.