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@NCCapitol

Lawmakers OK changes to third-grade reading requirements

Posted June 5
Updated June 12

Third-graders must prove reading ability under new law

— Despite reservations that it doesn't go far enough, legislation intended to improve the Read to Achieve program in North Carolina elementary schools is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The House voted 70-43 on Thursday to concur with changes to the program approved by the Senate.

The 2012 Read to Achieve law requires 36 tests to assess whether third-graders are up to grade level in reading comprehension. Those who aren't must either attend a six-week reading camp over the summer or repeat the third grade.

Since its implementation, however, teachers, parents and school administrators have complained that the law is overly strict and requires too much testing – three tests for each of 12 reading standards, all administered in the second half of the school year.

The new measure, which the Senate passed last week, gives school districts more flexibility in the summer reading camps, allows alternative assessments and spreads the testing throughout the third-grade year.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, criticized the bill and the approval process, noting that the legislation could have been improved if the House Education Committee had been given a chance to vet it. Changes he suggested included allowing students who perform well in one test to skip subsequent assessments in a particular standard and letting teachers and parents decide whether to exempt some students from the testing if it's clear they won't pass and need to attend the summer reading camp.

Parents also need to know earlier about the requirements, said Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland. "You can't wait until it's too late to correct deficiencies," he said.

They said the House should vote to send the measure to a conference committee to make changes.

Although he agreed that his Democratic colleagues made good points, Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg, argued that the House should lock in the gains in Read to Achieve in the bill and move on.

"Why do you think sending anything back to the Senate is going to make it better?" Jeter asked. "We've got 70 percent of what we've got. Let's put it on the shelf and lock it up."

Rep. Jeff Elmore, R-Wilkes, added that there's no time to address the proposal in conference committee because summer reading camps will begin in a couple weeks.

Glazier disagreed with Jeter's assessment, saying the bill tackles only 20 percent of the problems with Read to Achieve. Lawmakers will regret not even trying to improve it further, he said.

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  • NCMOM74 Jun 8, 9:38 p.m.

    My third grader missed scoring a 3 by 9 pts. but he was told he would be retained in third grade. The school never gave the option for a reading summer school. We were verbally notified that he didn't pass his portfolio's on April 30th, one month prior to the testing. It would have been nice to have this information prior so that I could work on this with him. It this has been a law since 2012, then why weren't the teacher or the school more prepared. They should have been working on this with him since day one.

  • hforbes482 Jun 6, 8:57 p.m.

    You cannot wait until 3rd grade to give a child special help with reading. You cannot take a child w/an IEP and not honor the IEP.
    If a child is having trouble reading on grade level b/f third grade find out why and help.
    You also have to make the reading interesting. Reading for pleasure is the best way to help a child learn to read.

  • for the people Jun 6, 4:01 p.m.

    Any NC history teachers on this board? Maybe civics? Many posters do not like the direction the... View More

    — Posted by tarheelfan41

    A true "historian" would understand that the Dems in NC weren't all "Libs", and that the... View More

    — Posted by krimson

    teacher raises are great for the teachers. but will do absolutely nothing for kids. parents are the key to kids success in the classroom. you can point the finger at the evil gop for as long as you want, but all you are doing is spitting into the wind. you would make much more of an impact if you would direct your energy into the kids/parents.

  • paulpamelasnyder Jun 6, 12:11 p.m.

    I just had my 3rd grader come home from school almost not breathing or really ready to throw up because he missed a "3" which is what he needs by 2 or 3 points.This means that he will need to go to a state run summer school for 6 hrs. a day for 6 weeks!!! I have been working with him all year and he has grown increasingly better but a number will tell if he passes or fails again. Since the retest is Friday and they took the 1st test Tuesday. I am no stranger to his work but I still can't believe there were so many differences this year in N.C. My son IS EDUCATED BUT he DOES HAVE DIFFICULTY with reading but I am a good parent and we work everyday at his reading
    and writing. I don't agree with what the state saw fit for MY child.....sad part...it won't make a difference if he missed by 1 or 50 points,they are all labeled the same, "not on target" Bad planning...

  • krimson Jun 6, 9:40 a.m.

    Any NC history teachers on this board? Maybe civics? Many posters do not like the direction the... View More

    — Posted by tarheelfan41

    A true "historian" would understand that the Dems in NC weren't all "Libs", and that the majority were "dixie-crats" that are now Republicans as a result of Southern Strategy.

    As to your question about ranking, in the last decade, NC was ranked in the middle of the pack (during Easley's admin). When the economic crisis hit (Perdue), we dropped to 45+. You will note that the GOP gained the General Assembly during the second half of Perdue's admin, and did not allow her to reinstate a Tax to provide for Teacher Raises. In the subsequent years, the GOP has done nothing except further cut educational spending.

  • tarheelfan41 Jun 6, 7:48 a.m.

    Any NC history teachers on this board? Maybe civics? Many posters do not like the direction the GOP is taking the education system, Says they are ruining it. So here are some questions. How long has NC been ranked at or near the bottom in education? How long has the GOP been in control of NC politics? How does NC rank in spending per pupil now and historically? The libs ran things in the ground for decades. It was way past time to change things up. It is madness to fail miserably and keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.

  • Honesty first Jun 6, 7:00 a.m.

    Look at the ads for teaching positions in Wake County. How many interventions specialists and English as second language do we really need? How about Biology or Math.

  • durandani Jun 5, 9:16 p.m.

    The intention may have been good, but the execution was so poor. My 3rd grader is in year-round school, and they only get 3 weeks off at a time. They were supposed to start implementing reading camps in March but had no idea what they were expected to do in reading camp and what resources they were going to get to implement it.

    Yes, it's great to add programs to help kids read well at a young age. But you can't just say you want a program implemented without providing resources or guidelines. That's not helping the kids. And it certainly no effective to cram a year of assessments into the last half of the year. Talk about forcing teachers to teach to the test.

  • damauro Jun 5, 8:47 p.m.

    It is a nightmare when children enter any grade without the ability to read on grade level.

    Still, just wondering where the data is that proves six weeks of summer remediation will put a child who ranks among the bottom one percent back at grade level. If that can be done, why not just skip whatever is happening in public ed now, especially the testing, and adopt the magical six week plan for all children. Then, take the testing money and give to teachers the long overdue raises they deserve, plus enough to entice them to stay around.

    Nah, forget that. Let's just keep following the clueless bureaucrats.

  • damauro Jun 5, 8:47 p.m.

    It is a nightmare when children enter any grade without the ability to read on grade level.

    Still, just wondering where the data is that proves six weeks of summer remediation will put a child who ranks among the bottom one percent back at grade level. If that can be done, why not just skip whatever is happening in public ed now, especially the testing, and adopt the magical six week plan for all children. Then, take the testing money and give to teachers the long overdue raises they deserve, plus enough to entice them to stay around.

    Nah, forget that. Let's just keep following the clueless bureaucrats.

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