About 265 students attended a reading academy at Heronville Elementary School, 1240 SW 29, where nearly 70 percent of students speak limited English.
Most of the 75 third-graders invited to attend are not expected to pass next month’s state-mandated test to measure reading proficiency.
“They can read, but they have little or no comprehension,” said Anna Pyron, a Heronville counselor who doubled as a reading teacher for the week. “Pictures they don’t know. Words they don’t know. Vocabulary they don’t know.”
Many students recently moved here from Mexico and don’t speak English at home, Pyron said. Heronville faces an uphill battle when it comes to getting students caught up.
“The understanding has to be there,” Principal Leon Hill said. “We want the kids to say the words that are important ... the words they need to succeed in school.”
Nearly one in four third-graders in the school district are reading below grade level and are in danger of being held back. About 12 percent of third-graders statewide are reading at unsatisfactory levels, but half are expected to qualify for good cause exemptions, state Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said this week.
Many English language learners who qualify for exemptions will be promoted, even though they do not read at grade level, Barresi said.