Encouraging the love of reading

Community donates 2,000 books to third-grade classroom
May. 08, 2014 @ 07:14 PM

Every third-grade classroom in Vance County Schools received books, pencils and a new pencil sharpener on Thursday morning, courtesy of the generosity of the community.

The United Way has collected more than 2,000 books since February when the group launched its book drive to benefit local students.

Nancy Gray, United Way executive director, said the board of directors packaged and delivered the books to all 27 third-grade classrooms in the public school system.

“We are so excited to have met our goal,” she said.

Heddie Somerville, Pinkston Street Elementary principal, said the donation will help motivate her third-grade students to read.

“With funding the way it is, we appreciate any organization donating resources for our kids,” she said. “The United Way has really fulfilled its promise to the students.”

Nicole Dobbs, a third grade teacher at Pinkston, said her kids were thrilled when the box of new books arrived.

“They can take the books home for the night, and some kids don’t have many books of their own,” she said.

The United Way reading initiative is targeting third-grade classrooms in Vance County because of the state’s Read to Achieve law, which requires those students read on grade level in order to move on to the fourth grade.

The mandate, which takes effect this year, mandates that students be able to read at a certain level by the end of third grade in order to be promoted to fourth grade.

If a student does not make a score of three or higher on the end-of-grade reading exam or the Read to Achieve exam, the reading portfolio can be used to demonstrate that proficiency.

The reading portfolio, which is included in the Read to Achieve legislation, is a compilation of 36 mini-quizzes based on the 12 third-grade Common Core Reading Standards.

In March, the Vance County school board approved the use of alternative assessments in place of the reading portfolio.

Dozens of other schools districts requested the change after third-grade teachers complained that many assessments were too time-consuming.

Dobbs said she was in favor of replacing the reading portfolio with tests already used in the district.

“It was very hectic, and I think, at one point, the students were overwhelmed,” she said.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.