PSS sets 2019 goal to up reading level of SpED students


The Public School System aims to have 55 percent of third grade special education students perform at or above reading proficiency levels by 2019.

This goal was defined in a recently completed State Systemic Improvement Plan submitted to the Office of Special Education Programs last month.

The goal, or the state-identified measurable result, states that by June 30, 2019, “at least 55 percent of third grade students with [individualized education plans] in three target schools will perform at or above reading proficiency against grade level and alternate academic achievement standards as measured by state assessment.”

PSS SpED director Suzanne Lizama said the plan now awaits federal review.

She said the Office of Special Education Programs will review the plan and let PSS know by June 15 if the plan is “approvable” or not.

She said the plan focuses on the goal to increase academic literacy in the third grade for three target schools—ones with the largest population of students.

The goal is to “prevent the literacy gap from happening, because it is much harder to close a gap than prevent a gap,” she explained.

Lizama said that Phase 1 of the plan, which was the extensive data needed to support their state goal, was completed.

The next phase would be to develop a plan on how they are going to achieve this goal. This plan would be due February 2016.

According to the SSIP, available on the PSS website, the overall trend data for reading proficiency of third grade students indicates “a downward trend over the last four years.”

“The proficiency gap between 3rd grade students with and without disabilities has steadily increased over the past few years and the gap continues in subsequent grades,” the SSIP says.

“The data indicates that students start out in 3rd grade with low reading performance and end high school with low reading performance.”

The SSIP lays out target goals. The 2013-2014 baseline is at 14 percent of third graders in three target schools reading at or above proficiency.

For 2014-2015, the target is 21 percent.

For 2015-2016, this is set at 29 percent.

For 2016-2017, the target is at 37 percent.

For 2017-2018, this is at 46 percent.

Phase II of the SSIP, or its implementation, will address the “root causes” for low reading proficiency.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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