Warren super serious about reading results

WARREN – The Warren City Schools’ new superintendent says the district’s third grade reading tests results remain stagnant. Steve Chiaro says steps will be taken to make gains, and the community is invited to be a part of the process.

“It’s a cry-for-help time, and we can’t mask it,” Chiaro said.

As the district’s new leader, taking over for outgoing superintendent Michael Notar, Chiaro said he will do anything necessary to ensure the success of the students, including making himself available at all times.

He plans on creating a new superintendent advisory committee, which will be comprised of a few school officials as well as community members and parents.

He also pointed out the district’s recent addition of two more preschools, bringing the total number of preschools to six, along with two additional preschools for children with disabilities.

Chiaro also said he has encouraged the curriculum instruction director to create a new curriculum advisory council.

“It’s going to take a while to get things moving in the right direction,” he said, explaining that in addition to the results from May’s test scores, the district has collected its own data, which shows the gaps are not closing.

Last month, Warren City Schools showed 67 percent of students passing the reading requirements. That’s a 39 percent increase from last year’s 28 percent of students passing, but Chiaro said it means the district has a long way to go.

In Ohio, more than 110,000 third-graders, or 88 percent, met the new targets and are moving on to the fourth grade after follow-up testing. The figures are up from the 63 percent who passed in October. Under the state’s new Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet tough new reading targets. Students took the tests in May.

The 130 Warren students who didn’t meet the criteria were enrolled in a six-week summer intervention program and were able to retake the tests. However, those test scores won’t be available until the end of July or August.

Chiaro said in the last 18 months, the district has made progress at identifying the underlying issues and making strong instructional decisions. However, he, along with Board of Education president Andre Coleman, said they will need the support of the community.

Coleman and Chiaro are calling on any outside organizations or area businesses who also would like to get involved.

“Anyone who wants to come forth and be a part of the process (is welcome),” Chiaro said.

He said he has been in Warren for 18 years and in that time has developed many contacts and relationships and is looking to develop many more in the coming days.

Coleman said the board’s decision to select Chiaro as Notar’s successor had a lot to do with his loyalty to the district.

Chiaro said one of his goals coming in is to set and establish expectations by beginning with a clear and consistent message.

“We need to say, ‘Here’s where it’s at, and we need to move forward,'” he said. “I think that they should hold me accountable and I think they should be part of the challenges that lie ahead.”

Chiaro said according to his plans, he hopes to see slight increases over the next two years with “sustainable gains” in the following years.