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Tulsa Schools Concerned As Third-Grade Reading Tests Near

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The national test is intended to prove competency in reading skills. The national test is intended to prove competency in reading skills.
Disney Elementary third graders will be taking the test in April. Disney Elementary third graders will be taking the test in April.
About half the student body is learning English as a second language. About half the student body is learning English as a second language.

Oklahoma's third graders are a month away from a key test of their reading skills that could result in some of them being held back. At Tulsa Public Schools - the district says right now more than 600 students are not up to the standard.

The district is concerned about the numbers but they've also got some good numbers on progress - children who are gaining ground on reading.

In Mrs. Smith's second grade class at Disney Elementary, the students are learning math - but reading - and English are part of every lesson. Including reading in every subject is one way the district is focusing on teaching the most fundamental step in education.

The district was building up its reading programs before - but now there's a deadline - a test in April to determine whether third graders advance - or repeat the grade.

1/15/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Group Against High Stakes Testing For Third Graders

The chief academic officer for TPS thinks that's wrong.

"So we're telling 8 year olds, if you don't pass this very first test the state has ever given you, at 8 years old, you will not go on to 4th grade," said Tracy Bayles, Tulsa Public Schools Chief Academic Officer.

But while the administration disagrees with the state standard - the district also has to work to meet it.

"We're working; we'll be working until the very day," said reading specialist Brigette Mangrum. Mangrum is a reading specialist at a school where half the student body is learning English as a second language.

Mid-Year Report

They will have to meet the same standard at the same time - no matter where they started.

The district is hoping to advance as many children as possible, but also figuring some of the 600 plus children who are behind right now - will need a second chance with summer school.

"We're planning on that number for summer school, so we can make sure we have all the pieces in place for next year," said Tracy Bayles, TPS.

The Tulsa district has had many programs before - but they've whittled them down to two, and rolled them out district wide this year for the first time. They are helping children advance very quickly - but it's a matter of whether or not there's time to catch third graders up to where they need to be - in the next month.

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