read to achieve

Middle school student Jojo works on a math assignment at Concord Middle.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

Lawmakers in a House committee on education spending released their budget proposal Thursday, and it includes several policy changes. One of those is  an adjustment to the A-F school grading system.

Image of June Atkinson, who has been the North Carolina state superintendent since 2005.
North Carolina Democratic Party

Senate Leader Phil Berger is criticizing the Department of Public Instruction for a budget it proposed in January. Documents show the department wanted to use about $2 million meant for a literacy program to fund positions the department axed to meet state-mandated budget cuts.

Wanda McLemore teaches a transitional fourth grade class at Falkener Elementary. The first half of her class is whole-group instruction.
Jess Clark

Forty percent of the state’s third-graders tested below grade level in reading last school year. Those are levels of achievement many parents and legislators say are unacceptable.

The state has been trying to boost reading scores for the last two years with a law called Read to Achieve. But is it getting schools what they need to improve scores?

Books
Reema Khrais

 Across the state, 79.2 percent of third-grade students showed they were proficient last year, according to a report presented to the State Board of Education on Thursday. 

A total of 12.7 percent of third-grade students were either retained in the third-grade or placed in transitional or accelerated classes. The remaining students were exempt because they are either English Language Learners or have learning disabilities. 

School districts say current assessments under the Read to Achieve mandate are excessive and take away from teaching time.
Judy Baxter via Flickr

Calling the current testing mandate excessive, school districts are asking the State Board of Education if they can implement their own tests to fulfill the state’s new reading law for third-grade students.

Under the Read to Achieve law, passed last year, third-grade students are required to attend summer reading camps if they are not reading at grade level by the end of the year.