Questions and concerns about the state's recently passed third-grade reading guarantee were heard at the Marietta City Board of Education meeting Monday.
Director of teaching and learning Jason Smith explained that portions of the guarantee - which requires children to meet a certain level of proficiency in reading or face repeating the third grade - will go into effect in the upcoming school year. However, it is unlikely any students would face retention at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Beginning this fall, schools must assess reading levels among kindergarten through third-graders by Sept. 30. It is unclear at this point whether subsequent requirements, including notification of parents and provision of immediate intensive reading intervention, must start this year as well, Smith said.
Board member Karen Burton expressed reservations about the guarantee, approved by legislators earlier this year.
"We have arbitrarily picked an age when children will learn to read. And some will and some won't," she said.
A retired teacher, Burton said children can make up lost ground with their reading skills after third grade, especially if they are only one grade level behind.
Next school board meeting
- 5:30 p.m. Aug. 20, administration building, 111 Academy Drive.
"I have known some students who have become wonderful readers," she said.
Superintendent Harry Fleming said one of the arguments for the guarantee is that children who struggle with reading are more likely not to complete high school. However, he noted repeating a grade also increases those odds.
Board President Greg Gault questioned a provision in the law that allows a student to be promoted to fourth grade mid-year if they achieve reading proficiency.
"How do you get promoted to fourth grade mid-year then and we're basing this just on reading?" he said.
"There again it proves the people that pass the laws don't know anything about schools," Burton said.
In other business:
AVI Fresh resident director Jennifer Curry made a presentation on a new finger-scanning system she's recommending the district purchase to keep a tally of students getting breakfast and lunch at school.
The number of students receiving free and reduced lunches in the district has increased recently, but the district is being reimbursed based on older, lower figures, Fleming said. The new system would provide a precise, updated head count, as well as speed up the lunch process.
"The students will not need to know their student ID number until they reach the sixth grade," Curry said.
The cost to purchase the scanners and necessary equipment for the district's four elementary schools is $8,671.
The board unanimously approved rehiring high school library media specialist Grace Hubbard, who retired at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Per district policy, she will return to the first step of the salary schedule, making $36,835 next year. Each year she continues, she can move up the schedule, Fleming said. Retired rehirees are only eligible for single-year contracts.
As required by state law, Monday's meeting included a public hearing on Hubbard's rehiring. No one spoke on the issue.