LISBON - A state bill passed this summer will predictably leave county schools struggling to assist elementary students with their reading skills.
At this week's Education Service Center board meeting, curriculum director Judy Herron told the board about the tight timeline districts will have to implement the Third Grade Reading Guarantee programs. By Sept. 30 each student in grades K-3 must have been assessed to see if they are on track for their reading, including vocabulary, fluency and phonetic ability.
"Teachers are coming back to school and immediately having to plan for how they are going to give these diagnostics," Herron said.
Each school's board will also have to adopt policies and procedures for assessing the reading skills. The district will have to develop a reading improvement plan within 60 days of learning about a student's reading deficiency. Only teachers who have passed a reading instruction test or with a reading endorsement on their teacher's license will be allowed to assist the students in extra reading help. The endorsement was not part of a normal teacher's training more than 10 years ago.
It is suggested as part of the intervention students should have at least 90 minutes of reading daily.
Students who do not show themselves as proficient during assessment will have a letter sent home to their parents at each grade level, warning the parent of the need for additional reading assistance. Those students who have not reached proficiency by the end of the third grade will be retained there, not advanced to the fourth grade.
Superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn pointed out there are a few exceptions, for instance students who have limited English skills or those who are in special education.
The Ohio Department of Education does have $13 million to create grants to help schools implement the programming, however, it may be difficult to get the money to help students this school year.
"We know the schools are going to struggle with time and funding issues," ESC board president Richard Stoudt said. "Grant applications are due Dec. 31, the money will be awarded April 30 and a month later, according to our calendar, the students will be going home for the summer."
Vaughn said Stephen Wagner took it upon himself three or four years ago to do some extra training to look at ways to better assist students in their reading. He was tutoring students and has studied two different reading programs. Now he is helping show others in the county some of the benefits of those programs and how they can target students who need extra help.
In other matters before the board:
- The board accepted the resignations of Karen Marcu, gifted intervention specialist; Kara Headland, classroom assistant; Mary Alice Sigler, early childhood intervention specialist and Kellee Snyder, school psychologist.
- The board voted to employ Robin Bundy and Joyce Reynolds, substitutes; 16 intervention specialists; seven classroom specialists; Elizabeth Hoffman and Kathryn Stevens, school psychologists; Marlayne Tabor, English as a second language instructor; Antonia Holland, summer school services; Angela Morris, home school instruction and crisis intervention trainer.
- Additionally, Diane Crites was hired as a speech language pathologist; Sandy Kuntz as a part-time physical therapist; and Melissa Crowl, Jennifer McVay, Lauren Johnson and Stacey Stoudt as paraeducators.