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Many loopholes riddle new third-grade reading law

January 26, 2014

This article was published in the Duncan OK Baner January 22, 2014.

There are many times when policies of national, state and local government agencies, while not of a security nature, are never disseminated to the public. What we have in the current Oklahoma Department of Public Instruction is an agency that operates within a very narrow definition of an “open door policy.”  If not for the advancement of communications technology, much of the behind-closed-doors and one-on-one communications between the agency and school administrators would never be known by parents or the public supporting the schools. This article cites such a case. 

This is the first year schools will be forced to retain third graders who failed to score satisfactorily on the new state reading test. Schools will receive a form asking them to predict how many students will score unsatisfactorily on the third grade reading test.

Schools will also be asked to predict the number of students who will qualify for each of the “good cause” exemptions which are:

“(1) Student must be identified as Limited – English Proficient (LEP)/English Language Learner (ELL) on a screening tool approved by the Oklahoma Department of Education Office of Bilingual/Migrant Education and have a Language Instruction Education Plan (LIEP) in place prior to the administration of the third grade criterion referenced test. Said student must have had less than two (2) years of instruction in an English Language Learner (ELL) Program.

(2) Students with disabilities, assessed with alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) under the Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP) in the Oklahoma Alternative Assessment Program (OAAP), qualify for the “good cause” exemption.

(3) *Scoring at or above 45th percentile on one of four Oklahoma State Board of      

                 Education approved alternative standardized reading assessments:

      – Stanford Achievement Test, Tenth Edition (SAT 10)

      – Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) Complete Battery, Form A, C, or E, Level 9,                         Reading Comprehension

     – Terra Nova, Third Edition Complete Battery, Level 13, Reading

(4) *To promote a student based on evidence from the Student Portfolio.  The Student Portfolio shall include evidence demonstrating the student’s mastery of the Oklahoma State Standards in Reading equal to grade level performance on the reading portion of third grade OCCT.

(5) Students with disabilities who participate in the statewide criterion-referenced test and have an IEP may qualify for a “good cause” exemption. To qualify for this exemption, the student must meet the following criteria:  (A) The student must have been previously retained in Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, or Third Grade. (B) The student’s IEP must: (i) Identify Reading as an area of educational need for the student, or identify some type of Special Education service in the area of Reading; and (ii) Reflect that the student has received intensive remediation for more than two years. Intensive remediation may include any type of program offering intensive reading instruction that is identified as appropriate by the IEP team.

(6) Students who demonstrate a reading deficiency and have been previously retained may qualify for a “good cause” exemption. To qualify, the student must meet the following criteria: (A) The student must have been previously retained in Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, or Third Grade for a total of two years; and (B) The student must have received intensive reading instructions for two or more years.

*“Good Cause” Exemptions 3 and 4 are provisions designed for students who read on a proficient level.”   (Reproduced as written and edited by ODE.)

Under these criteria, schools must come up with the number of students who will fail the tests by mid-February – as indicated by the asterisks (*). After principals complete the worksheet, Regional Accreditation Officers will have superintendents sign a Reading Sufficiency Act Awareness Statement assuring that schools have followed the law on reading instruction and benchmark assessments with students.

Will this policy make betters readers of students and teachers better instructors or is it just another series of checklists and forms? 






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