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NC third-graders face new reading hurdle

Posted September 12, 2013

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— Third-grade students across North Carolina will have a new test to pass this year, one that will determine whether they are reading well enough to move on to the next grade.

The state’s Read to Achieve program, which was passed by lawmakers in July 2012 as part of the North Carolina Excellence in Public Schools Act, takes effect this year with a standardized test given at the beginning of the third grade to evaluate reading proficiency.

The results will be compared with the standardized end-of-grade test taken at the end of the third-grade year.

Under the program, students who aren’t reading at or above grade level will have to retake the test, get an exemption or enroll in a summer reading program.

Third-graders must prove reading ability under new law NC third-graders must prove reading ability

If those don't work, the student could be held back.

But as far as educators are concerned, failure is not an option.

“That is a last resort, and it's something we do not want to do,” said Eric Fitts, principal of Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh.

Fitts said there's a provision in the law that allows for exceptions for children who, for example, have special needs or an extended illness or experienced a traumatic event. He said the key is identifying the issue early.

“We want to help them throughout the school year and not just wait to the end of the school year to put something in place to help them be successful,” he said.

In 2012, about 30 percent of North Carolina’s third-graders could not read at or above their grade level.

Brentwood Elementary teacher Jasmine Smiley said she will use the data from the test taken at the start of the school year as a framework for individual reading lessons.

Still, there can be struggles.

“They try so hard, and some children just can't pick up as fast as others,” she said.
 

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  • southernrebels Sep 13, 2013

    Danbabe--it actually isn't true that we as parents are part of the biggest problem in our case. In fact, we were the solution. We were the ones to identify our son's learning challenge. The teachers, though very sweet, thought we were wrong. But it was because we went outside the school to get an evaluation that our son was identified. We did not rely on the school for a diagnosis. This is an example of despite adequate exposure, qualified teachers, and intelligence, there are reasons why students struggle to read. Many children go unidentified because a specific reading disability can b hard to spot for teachers, and parents. This results in children not getting the right method of instruction early on. Many children fall into the category of not doing poorly enough to qualify for services, yet need additional instruction. We need more education on reading methods. Not everyone learns to read the same way. Don't punish the kid.

  • iopsyc Sep 13, 2013

    "Yup, yup. My guess is that the people paid to design the test will be the same people paid to come up w/ curriculum to help pass it after scores are low and everyone freaks out." Jackflash

    You would be wrong. The beginning of grade 3 reading test was developed by DPI (same folks that develop the EOG and EOC.

  • iopsyc Sep 13, 2013

    "What irritates me is NC still expects (requires) children with profound disabilities to take these tests." - trianglemommy

    Yes and no. The EOGs and EOCs are required (by law) to include all (or nearly all) students, including students with severe and profound disabilities, because of that NC EXTEND1 exists.

    The beginning of 3rd grade test mentioned in the article doesn't have to be give to students with severe and profound disabilities (i.e. there's no EXTEND1 version if it)

  • teacher22 Sep 13, 2013

    Believe me, there have been many, many children over the years that I strongly believed needed to be retained. Unfortunately it is not up to the teacher. Principals "look bad" if their retention numbers are high. I have had principals flat out refuse to discuss the need for retention or testing. Also, many parents flip out because they don't want Johnny's self esteem damaged. This new rule will not change anything, it just means third graders will face extra tests.

  • zoso62 Sep 13, 2013

    My parents taught me how to read before I ever started first grade.

  • TJPC Sep 13, 2013

    We didn't need all these state or federal tests when I was in school. Teachers had principals, administrators and school boards who ran the schools, not the state and feds. And the kids and the parents knew that if you couldn't do the work, then you didn't pass. Now the parents, psychologists and courts have taken that away by trying to make excuses for those who are either unable or unwilling to put forth the effort to learn. You helped one in one way, and the other in a very different way. They couldn't save them all, but they came out as better adults than they do now. - wheelman

    And I bet that you walked to school two miles - uphill both ways. Give me a break - it is 2013 and times are different. The perception that everything was better when I was a child simply isn't true. I think it is a good thing that teachers are more in tune now with their students then ever before. I know for a fact that when I went to school, teachers WERE NOT actually teaching to everyone in the cla

  • for the people Sep 13, 2013

    Parents are the first teachers and are responsible for ensuring their children's success. I am a single parent and make no excuses for my child's education because of my tax filing status. My child is above grade level in reading and math because we read together and use math skills daily. Let your child go with you shopping and determine which sales items are the best deal/learn percentage. Education can always be fit into the day!
    csui

    best post of the day!!!

  • csui Sep 13, 2013

    Parents are the first teachers and are responsible for ensuring their children's success. I am a single parent and make no excuses for my child's education because of my tax filing status. My child is above grade level in reading and math because we read together and use math skills daily. Let your child go with you shopping and determine which sales items are the best deal/learn percentage. Education can always be fit into the day!

  • babedan Sep 13, 2013

    southernrebel why did it take you so long to have your child checked? Or did you? You are an example of part of one of the biggest problems It's up to someone else to figure that out not the parent. Glad you finally figured out the problem and got it taken care of but the bottom line is YOU DON'T PASS A KID JUST FOR THE SAKE OF PASSING HIM ON TO THE NEXT TEACHER OR GETTING HIS/HER FEELING HURT, YOU PASS A CHILD BECAUSE THEY ARE READY TO MOVE UP TO THE NEXT CHALLENGE.

  • momeeee Sep 13, 2013

    A child should be able to pass a reading test by third grade. If not they need to be held back until they can. It is a very important building block just like basic math.

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