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Young readers measure up

Mon., April 3, 2006

Local students read as well as their counterparts across the state, and even better in many instances.

At least two-thirds of all Kootenai County students from kindergarten to third grade read at grade level, according to Idaho Reading Indicator scores that were released last week.

Idaho children started taking this standardized test six years ago as part of a statewide effort to improve early reading skills. It’s administered every year in September, January and April.

In response to January’s scores, state Superintendent Marilyn Howard said in a statement, “Although our rate of improvement has slowed slightly from prior years, it is encouraging to see continued gains from year to year and from fall to winter.”

In Kootenai County, first-graders had the highest performance across the board, with 91 percent of Lakeland students reading at grade level, and 90 percent of Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene students.

Post Falls made the most improvement as a district since last year, with significant gains in kindergarten (7 percentage points more students meeting grade expectations) and second grade (5 percentage points more).

Lakeland had the highest percentage of students reading at grade level in every grade except second grade, where Post Falls exceeded it.

Ron Schmidt, assistant superintendent at Lakeland, said his district was glad to see its students improve their scores and perform above the state’s average.

“Our teachers will look at the individual student scores, and they’ll prescribe a program of remediation or acceleration that will help that child hit the proficiency target in the spring,” Schmidt said.

Post Falls Assistant Superintendent Becky Ford was also pleased to see her district competing with and surpassing the state averages. Having nearly three-quarters of kindergarteners and 90 percent of first-graders reading at grade level is “outstanding,” Ford said.

Even though the percentage of third-graders reading proficiently needs improvement, she added, those numbers mirror those of their counterparts across the state.

Still, Ford wanted to keep the scores in perspective.

“To say a 10-minute indicator can totally and completely tell you where a child is on the journey is asking a bit much of the test,” Ford said. “While it is a very good indicator, it’s not all we use.”

No one from the Coeur d’Alene district was available for comment.


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