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Local third grade reading proficiency on the rise

The state department of education released 2018 third grade reading scores last week, and for the Gadsden County School District, the news is good.

Gadsden County third grade reading proficiency rose six percent versus the previous school term, from 34 percent in 2017 to 40 percent in 2018.

Of the state’s 67 counties, this represents the third highest increase in third grade reading proficiency, which is determined by a score of 3 out of 5 or higher on the Florida Standards Assesment reading exam.

The Florida Standards Assesment is a standardized test administered annually at all Florida public schools.

“I am extremely excited about our performance on these test scores,” Gadsden County School Superintendent Roger Milton said. “But we realize that there is still much work to be done. These scores show that we must continue to embrace change, work hard and press forward so that we will continue moving from good to great.”

According to Milton, third grade test scores are especially important as student performance indicators, as third grade is the first grade level in which students take the Florida Standards Assessment.

Third grade scores are the earliest to be released each year; test scores for fourth through 10th grades are due for release in a few weeks.

Both Milton and Tammy Farlin, the county’s director of curriculum and instruction for elementary education, said they believe third grade reading scores will continue to rise.

The key to doing so, Farlin added, will be to provide quality education early – when students first enter Gadsden County schools, before they reach the third grade. quality educational strategies when students first enter Gadsden County schools, before they reach the thrid grade.

“Our goal is to improve student performance as evidenced by improved test scores; however, this movement will require deliberate actions before the students reach third grade,” Farlin said, “Keeping a laser-like focus on these indicators, coupled with implementing sound instructional practices, will yield the constant improvement that we are seeking.”

Farlin attributed third grade success partly to Superintendent’s Milton’s emphasis on early literacy and small-group instruction beginning in Pre-K.

“We can assure that the research-proven strategies that were implemented during the 2017-18 school year will continue to be implemented with fidelity, supported at the school and district level, and monitored frequently henceforth,” Farlin continued.

Statewide, third grade reading proficiency dropped slightly this year, from 58 percent in 2017 to 57 percent in 2018.

By Randall Lieberman