More than half of Del Rio freshman students are reading below grade level, a recent report shows.

Only 28 percent of San Felipe Del Rio CISD’s freshman students read at or above grade level, while 57 percent read below the standard, according to Chief Instructional Officer Aidee Garcia, who presented STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) results at recent school board meeting.

Comprehension rates gradually decrease as grade levels increase, Garcia presented. Reading comprehension scores are highest in first grade, when about 56 percent of the students read at or above grade level while 23 read below, the report shows.

By sixth grade, when students enter middle school, more students are reading below the standard than above, the report shows.

Student who read below grade level are divided into two categories, Garcia said, intervention and urgent intervention.

“(Intervention) students are identified as needing assistance on a daily basis to get to that end of-the-year benchmark,” Garcia said. “Your urgent students, those are students who not only need daily intervention, but intense interventions.”

The number of students who tested at intervention and urgent level are about equal, according to the report.

Many students who read at the urgent intervention level, Garcia said, are identified as dyslexic or are enrolled in educational programs, such as MRT (Master Reading Teacher), special education, speech therapy.

School board president Raymond Meza expressed concern for the freshman reading level, identifying low-performing students as those who may potentially drop out before high school graduation.

“It alarms me that we have 57 percent below grade level, because they’re not going to be able to earn the credits they need and I don’t want the drop-out rate to increase.”

Meza also mentioned a lack of standard certified teachers at the elementary campuses could have a negative impact on reading comprehension scores.

Garcia said, by law, teachers hold conferences with parents to inform their children when they begin to fall behind and to provide at-home strategies to help the student’s reading skills improve.

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