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As expectations rise, schools scramble to help students clear test hurdles
From Ohio to Los Angeles, schools give second chances and relax standards to prevent leaving too many behind. - photo by Eric Schulzke
The good news in Columbus, Ohio, schools this summer is that 87 percent of its third-graders passed the reading test and can move on to the next grade, WBNS 10-TV reports. The bad news is that 599, or 13 percent, did not.

But in the spirit of No Child Left Behind, Columbus school officials are giving these students another chance. Social workers went door-to-door over the weekend, WBNS reports, informing parents that it isn't too late.

"We're committed to this because we want all of our students to move to the fourth grade," Cheryl Ward, supervisor of the districts Student and Family Engagement, told WBNS.

Every student who did not meet the cut scores for the OAA test has the opportunity to go to summer school. They have the opportunity to get the skills and the strategies that they need in order to take the test," Ward said.

This effort to help nudge kids across the line comes a week after the Los Angeles Unified School district voted to lower the required grade in a series of college prep classes to a D, rather than a C.

The tougher requirement had set up a potential train wreck, the Daily News reported, with 51 percent of the district's incoming seniors for next fall already behind for graduation.

In Florida, meanwhile, preliminary test results show that 20 percent of the state's third-graders are at risk of being held back, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

By law, in Florida, the bottom quintile on the third-grade exams must be considered for repeating the grade, and schools are then given a rubric to make those individual decisions.

The struggles over grade promotion got an echo in a widely noted NPR report last week, which argued that in many states rising graduation rates do not necessarily reflect better performance, but are often the result of policies designed to give extra help and chances to technically clear the bar, rather than to truly master the material.