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Reading camps to promote many

The number of Hillsborough third-graders possibly eligible for promotion just rose considerably, with the conclusion of three-week-long reading camps.

Preliminary results show seven out of 10 children at risk of being retained may be eligible to go on to fourth grade based on a test and a portfolio of other exams that prove they can read.

Teachers are evaluating the results of the children's work to make the final decision.

Parents will be notified in the next few weeks.

Of the 1,190 children who attended the camps, about 20 percent, or 240, passed the concluding test. The passing rate is higher than in many surrounding school districts, such as Pinellas, which had a 10.6 percent passing rate after its camps, and Hernando, which had 14 percent.

Another 51 percent of the children, or 607, fell just below the passing mark on the test. But their work, along with their portfolios, may qualify them to be promoted.

In all, the district expects to promote 847 children who attended, or 71 percent. Another 343 did not do well enough to be considered for fourth grade.

"Nobody's hanging their head around here with these results," said Hillsborough school spokesman Mark Hart.

Children who failed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in reading were invited to the camps held at 24 schools for intensive lessons. They took a test known as the Stanford-9 at the camp's end, June 26.

The camps were held throughout the state for third-graders who failed the FCAT and another test. A new state law said the children must be kept back unless they could prove their reading ability through tests or portfolios of their work.

In Hillsborough, the children spent four hours a day, four days a week, working in small groups with teachers.

Based on the expected passing rate, Hart said the district has deemed the camps a success.

_ Melanie Ave can be reached at 226-3400 or melaniesptimes.com

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