The Kennewick School District expects fewer third-graders to meet reading standards for the next few years.
While the district has seen 87 percent or more of its third-graders meeting standards in previous years, Superintendent Dave Bond said benchmarks were raised beginning with this current school year.
As a result, he said, only 78 percent to 80 percent of third-graders are expected to meet the new standards this year.
"It's going to be a big challenge," Bond told Kennewick School Board members at a Wednesday meeting.
Previously, students who were reading in the 35th percentile or better by the end of their spring semester in third grade were considered to be meeting district standards. Students now are expected to be in the 50th percentile or higher in reading proficiency by the end of their third-grade year.
The new standards have left more children needing additional reading instruction to begin the school year. Bond said students needing the most help are given instruction in small groups with a single teacher or para-educator to bring up their skills.
Progress has been made. About 57 percent of the district's third-graders were meeting standards in the fall. Halfway through the year, that number has increased to 68 percent.
"They're catching up, a lot are catching up," Bond said.
However, he added some schools, particularly those with a high number of low-income students or English language learners, have a particularly difficult time. Those schools tend to have the highest number of students not meeting reading standards.
Board member Heather Kintzley asked whether the district plans to take a similar approach to third-grade math scores. Bond said the district established math standards years ago but budget cuts took away funding for that system.
"We would have to basically double the staffing," he said.
-- Board member Ron Mabry requested the board discuss traffic issues near Southridge High School. The board agreed to move that discussion to its next board meeting March 14.
There have been accidents where a driveway into a school parking lot intersects with Southridge Boulevard. Accidents have happened at the intersection in the past, and Mabry said someone was injured in another accident reported Wednesday.
Bond said construction in the area has worsened traffic and growth around the high school also is expected to increase traffic in the future.