Oklahoma City Public Schools will promote 514 third-graders who failed a state reading test but qualified for several good-cause exemptions, including 139 students recommended for promotion by a team of parents and educators.
Conversely, the district will retain 636 third-graders who failed a state reading test and have yet to qualify for one of seven exemptions, district officials announced during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Those students still can be promoted to the fourth grade if they pass an alternative assessment offered by the district July 25.
About 1,200 third-graders have been invited to attend a two-week reading academy beginning July 14 to help prepare them for the test.
Students who fail the assessment can retest again on Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Oct. 14 and will be promoted immediately if they pass, officials said. The 2014-2015 school year begins Aug. 4.
“I’m disappointed because I don’t want any child retained because of lack of reading skills,” said Pat Watson-Hunt, the district’s executive director of elementary schools.
A second chance
In May, Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill allowing a student who fails the test to still be promoted if a team of parents and educators unanimously approve.
The Oklahoma Legislature, however, overturned the veto, giving thousands of third-graders statewide a second chance at promotion.
The decision to promote or retain students who failed the test but did not qualify for another exemption came after parent-teacher conferences in May and June that included a reading specialist and the student’s principal.
The vote to retain or promote was unanimous, Watson-Hunt.
“On the conference-based promotions, I think a lot of people really felt like we were going to just promote everyone because the law gave us that opportunity,” Watson-Hunt said.
“Those teams came together and made decision based on the best interests of the children.”
Of the 3,412 third-graders who completed the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test in April, 18 scored advanced; 1,585 scored proficient; 654 scored limited knowledge in reading and 998 scored unsatisfactory, according to updated figures provided by the district.
Of the 514 district students who qualify for exemptions, 67 are English-language learners who have had less than two years of English and are not proficient; 67 are considered severely disabled; 79 have demonstrated an acceptable level of performance on an alternative assessment; 118 have learning disabilities and were previously retained; 10 were retained twice; 33 who passed a screening benchmark; and one demonstrated competency through a portfolio of writing samples.