A new program to encourage young readers has had a difficult start, but the results are in and Read To Achieve makes young children strong readers.
Students in North Carolina who were not considered proficient in reading by the end of third grade are spending four weeks in the state mandated summer reading camps. There they try to pass the test, or another form of it.
The statewide Read to Achieve program is at the end of its inaugural years. According toschool officials and parents, the first year was a struggle. It was difficult to implement due to changes by lawmakers, officials say. Students and parents were frightened by the prospect of repeating third grade, and the testing seemed endless.
But what started as a hardline program from the state legislature has eased and evolved into what educators say is a better way to identify struggling students. The program still isn’t perfect. Parents still worry that it puts too much of an emphasis on testing, and educators say it’s difficult to figure out how students at a wide range of learning levels can show proficiency.
But many agree that the changes to the Read to Achieve program will help schools reach the ultimate aim: ensuring students become strong readers early.
The Read to Achieve law, passed in 2012 by the General Assembly, requires all third-graders to pass the state end-of-year test to move on to fourth grade. Students who didn’t pass can attend a summer reading camp and will be retested. There are exceptions, which the state calls “good cause exemptions.” Students can be promoted if they have a disability or can show a portfolio of their reading work to show they’re proficient.
The program began during the 2013-14 school year. Third-graders were required to show proficiency on 12 reading standards. They did that by taking reading tests three times a year to determine where they needed extra help.