Reading scores up in county

The reading skills of area third-graders have improved greatly, according to recent test results.

Fall reading scores released Tuesday show increases across the board for Trumbull County third-graders as compared with last year’s scores.

Two school districts showed 100 percent of their students met the reading target – Bloomfield-Mespo and Lordstown Schools.

Close behind them were Bristol, Brookfield, Champion, Howland, Hubbard, Joseph Badger, Lakeview, Maplewood, Mathews, McDonald, Niles, Southington and Weathersfield, all with more than 90 percent of their students making the grade.

Under the state’s new Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet tough new reading targets. Students took the tests in May.

Warren City Schools showed a 39 percent increase from last year, with 67 percent of students passing the reading requirements as opposed to 28 percent in 2013.

“The best part of intervention was with the teachers themselves,” Superintendent Michael Notar said. The saw where the third-graders stood from fall reading scores and took steps to improve them.

The 130 students who didn’t meet the criteria are enrolled in the summer intervention program. The program spans about six weeks and the students will soon be able to retake the tests, he said.

“We know we’re going to have some students who don’t meet the benchmark, but it would be a huge gain if we could get 50 or less kids that we have to focus on in the fall,” he said.

Warren isn’t the only district to boast a large increase in passing students from last year. Weathersfield, Southington, Niles, McDonald, LaBrae, Girard and Bloomfield also showed a more than 40 percent difference from 2013 results.

In Ohio, more than 110,000 third-graders, or 88 percent, have met the new targets and will now move on to the fourth grade after follow-up testing. The figures are up from the 63 percent who passed in October.

But not everyone believes those numbers are a positive sign.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee and Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald expressed his concern in a statement that more than 12 percent of third-graders remain at risk of being held back.

He wrote, “This week’s test results reinforce that in order to ensure our children are reading at grade level by the third grade we must make a real investment in early childhood education and universal pre-k. In the meantime, the governor must also call the Legislature back from their summer recess to place a moratorium on the third-grade reading guarantee and to appropriate the needed resources to ensure that the Ohio children who don’t pass the test get the resources in fourth grade they need.”

Officials say students lacking the standards may have already been re-tested by districts or can re-take reading in the summer.

Children still lagging this fall could advance to fourth grade midyear once the targets are met.

If the student remains in third grade, the school must provide a reading teacher and 90 minutes of reading instruction each day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.