Reading testing scores released Friday for students at Stark County's public schools show about a third of students across districts weren't considered proficient.
Ohio's Third-Grade Reading Guarantee requires third-grade students pass a state reading assessment, which is administered in October and in the spring. The 2013-14 school year is the first that students risk being held back a grade level if their scores aren't high enough.
The lowest-scoring district was Canton City Schools, with 36.2 percent of students scoring proficient or higher.
The highest-scoring district was Jackson Local Schools, with 80.5 percent of students earning a proficient score or above.
The average passage rate for all public schools across the state was about 57 percent.
Canton City Superintendent Adrian Allison believes the district's upcoming realignment of its elementary schools will help improve future test scores. Instead of 14 elementary buildings that serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade, seven of the schools will be designated for kindergarten through second grade and will focus on reading and math.
"We expect (the scores) to improve as we realign ourselves to put more heavy focus on reading at the lower grade levels," Allison said.
Compared with last year's October reading scores, proficiency percentages dropped for most schools in Stark County.
NOT ALL WILL BE HELD BACK
Not all students who did not score proficient or higher on the exam would be in danger of being held back from fourth grade.
A proficient score is a 400, but for this school year, students who score a 392 or higher will be permitted to move on, according to the state department of education promotion policy. The lowest score possible is 260 and highest is 503.
The law also includes exemptions for students who have have limited English skills, who have special education needs, students who score proficient on an alternate state-approved test or students who were previously retained.
Percentages released show results for all students who took the test.
Students will have the chance to take the assessment again in late April or early May. Those who do not pass the second round of testing will have one more opportunity to take the assessment in the summer.
Districts have 30 days to analyze scores and ask for an appeal or verification, according to the Ohio Department of Education.