Aurora -- The local school district continues to lead Portage County in the most recent third-grade reading assessment scores, with 97.1 percent posting scores high enough to advance to fourth grade.

The most recent results were released June 17 by the Ohio Department of Education, which reported of 205 Aurora third-graders tested, 199 recorded a score of 392 or better to meet the state standard.

Since the six students who did not score high enough on the spring assessments did so on an alternative assessment, Superintendent Russ Bennett said no third-graders will be held back this year.

"We are very pleased that there are no children that will be forced to be retained as a result of the third-grade reading guarantee," said Bennett. "Students that were in jeopardy have either passed the spring OAA or have passed an alternative assessment.

"Our staff did a tremendous job of intervening with students who struggled with their reading and because of their work, the efforts of the students and parents, we are glad that we don't have any students held back in third grade."

Portage districts which followed Aurora were James A. Garfield at 96.7 percent, Kent at 95.9 percent and Rootstown at 95.6 percent. Ravenna was the lowest in the county at 86.3 percent.

Statewide, close to 90 percent of third-graders earned high enough scores on the reading assessments to advance to the fourth grade.

A total of 105,681 public school students out of 119,393 statewide and 5,878 charter students out of 8,234 met the new third-grade reading guarantee, translating to 88.5 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively.

THAT'S UP from about 63 percent for all public and charter school students who took the reading tests in the fall.

"These preliminary results show that most Ohio students have mastered the reading skills they need to be successful, but more needs to be done," state Superintendent Richard Ross said. "We need to continue and in some cases increase our efforts to ensure every boy and girl in Ohio will have the skills necessary to be lifelong learners."

In the four counties of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Summit and Lorain, only 12 districts had higher percentages than Aurora. Independence schools led with a perfect 100 percent (65 students) meeting the standard.

Following that district were Chagrin Falls, Rocky River, Beachwood, Avon Lake, Revere, Chardon, Columbia, Firelands, Green, North Olmsted and Solon.

In addition to Independence, 19 districts reported all of their students met the testing requirement.

A new state law requires third-graders who are not reading at grade level to be held back. Exceptions are made for students with learning disabilities and other issues.

Students have several opportunities to pass a test to pinpoint their reading levels. Two assessments are given during the regular school year, with another offered to affected students during the summer. Those who don't meet third-grade reading proficiency are retained, with requirements for 90 minutes of reading instruction per school day.

Students can take fourth-grade classes in other subjects or advance midyear to that grade if their reading scores improve.

Record Publishing Co. Capital Bureau Chief Marc Kovac contributed to this report.


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