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May 16, 2014

NPS announces RSA exemptions, reading academy plans

NORMAN — Norman Public Schools has identified 44 students, or 27 percent, of the 165 that the State Department of Education’s (SDE) preliminary data from its testing vendor indicate scored unsatisfactory on the state’s third grade language arts test as automatically qualifying for one of the state’s “good cause exemptions” to being retained in the third grade.

About 1,100 third-graders took the exam and the 44 auto exemptions were:

· 35 — Special education students who had previously been retained

· 4 — English language learners of less than two years:

· 5 — Already have a portfolio and/or proficient performance on an alternate exam.

Moreover, the district has confirmed that two less students actually scored unsatisfactory, according to the preliminary results provided by the SDE. The SDE had duplicated scores for two of NPS’ third-grade students. Moreover, its communications to school districts today reiterate that student-level result files provided to school districts are still preliminary.

NPS has finished notifying all parents and guardians of the 165 students, and now principals, teachers, counselors and parents are working together to identify the most appropriate individual intervention for each student.

The vast majority of the students who did not automatically qualify for a good cause exemption still will pursue an exemption route through a portfolio and/or be retested on an alternate exam, which will be the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Some of the students would have been recommended for retention without current state law mandating it based on the state third-grade language arts exam.

However, all third-grade students who are believed to have scored unsatisfactory will be given the opportunity for a summer reading academy. The academy is part of the district’s free summer school program, will provide a small class size and will be led by reading specialists. Transportation will be provided to all students who attend.

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