Tulsa Public Schools third graders receive disappointing summer reading test results

TULSA - Hundreds of students are at risk of repeating the third grade after failing a summer reading test.

Only four of 470 third graders who took the test passed, according to officials from Tulsa Public Schools.

"It was very disappointing. Very disappointing," said Tracy Bayles, Chief Academic Officer for Tulsa Public Schools. "And so that's why we had to look deeper at the data to see what kind of improvements we're seeing."

The test, given at the end of summer school, serves as a make-up exam for third graders who failed the state-mandated reading test that was given during the spring.

There are 3,355 third-graders in TPS who took the original reading test during the 2013-14 school year.

In May, TPS received the results of that reading test and found out that one-third, or 1,128 students, failed the test.

Under Oklahoma law, students who fail the test cannot be promoted to fourth grade unless they qualify for one of six exemptions (which includes the summer makeup test), or unless a committee of parents and educators, reviewing a portfolio, unanimously determine the child's reading skills are sufficient to warrant promotion.

Of the 1,128 students who failed, 558 enrolled in the summer reading academy. Four hundred seventy of those students took the alternate reading test a couple of weeks ago. TPS says 112, or 20 percent, did not show up to take the test.

Students who took the summer reading program and failed the alternative reading test can retake the test on Aug. 12. Students who attended the summer reading program and did not take the alternative reading test can take the test on Aug. 7. Students who did not take the summer reading program at all, still have a chance to retake the alternate reading test on Aug. 13-14.

Another way a student who has not passed the state reading test can move on the 4th grade is if a committee comprised of a the child's parent(s), 3rd grade teacher, 4th grade teacher, a reading specialist and the child's principal are all in agreement that despite the failed results, the student is eligible to proceed to the next grade.

"Philosophically I agree students need to be on level by third grade. The reality is not all students develop at the same rate. They come in at different places," said Bayles.

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