Jenks Worried Students Who Can't Speak English, Have Disabilities May Be Held Back

Tuesday, May 13th 2014, 7:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

New information about the results of the state's third grade reading test say that several school districts believe the results will show most kids who failed are in special education classes.

Jenks parents got letters Tuesday with the test results for their third graders. 69 families will find out their children didn't pass, and all but a handful of those are special education, or kids who don't speak English.

In Bridget Hailey's third grade classroom, the children are done with testing, but really just getting started on their reading skills.

Some do better than others and Hailey believes the test results will show the big change that's happening with her classes.

5/9/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Third Graders, Parents Wait For State Test Results

"Some children are still learning to read, and some are reading to learn, so it's a totally different stage of development," Hailey said.

At Jenks, 91 percent of the third graders passed the state test.

"I don't think any of these kids aren't on grade level because they haven't tried, they're working hard, and that's all we can ask of them, is that they do their best," Hailey said.

Jenks administrators worry that the children who don't speak English, or have disabilities, still must be held back until they pass the test.

"Those students have been identified as struggling and been identified as having reasons for disabilities or struggling with school or reading," Jenks Assistant Superintendent, Lisa Muller, said. "And that's a concern that we have, that they would be subject to retention based on a disability."

In Jenks, 782 students took the test, and 69 of them failed. 63 of those have disabilities or don't speak English, and a dozen of them fit into both categories.

Only 6 of the 69 are not in special education or learning English as a second language.

Dr. Muller said while almost all of the children passed, the district will need a few more days to review records for the ones who might qualify for an exemption to the law.

"It's likely that the portfolios will show some of the children are performing above the retention level, but we can't be sure of that until we're done with the review process," Muller said.

The review in Jenks will take until the end of the week, so some parents will get letters saying children failed the test, but by the end of the week will find out their children can go ahead to fourth grade.

Other districts tell us the same thing about special education kids failing the test, and have similar concerns about that situation.