Vance seeks to change how it assesses reading proficiency

Mar. 10, 2014 @ 10:09 PM

The Vance County school board will join school districts across the state in adopting an alternate assessment to the Read to Achieve third-grade reading portfolio.

The board voted unanimously Monday night to approve Reading 3D End of Year Total Reading Comprehension and ClassScape benchmark assessments as alternatives to the portfolio.

Dr. Trixie Brooks, superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said third-grade students would need to score a level P on the Reading 3D test.

"That is considered where they should be at the end of third grade," she said. "We are still determining proficiency for our students, just in an alternative way."

The Read to Achieve law, 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.

Those students have to answer four of five questions correctly on the mini-quizzes, which adds up to three different quizzes per standard.

Last month, the state Board of Education approved alternative assessments in lieu of the portfolio for 30 school districts, including the Wake County Public School System, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Piedmont Triad Education Consortium.

Vance County school board will still need approval.

Many schools that requested approval for an alternative assessment cited concerns over the amount of time needed to complete the portfolio for each third-grade student.

In a letter to state Superintendent June Atkinson, Ashe County school board members wrote, "Up to 80 hours of direct instruction per third grade classroom during the sixteen week window will be lost."

Cleveland County Schools emphasized constant assessment with the reading portfolio passages creates a loss of instructional time.

"As this process matures, the lost instructional time will increase due to having to pass three passages per student and reassessing students that haven't passed three passages per standard," the board stated in the letter.

The school board at Kannapolis City Schools calculated the amount of time needed to implement the portfolio in their school system.

"Our calculations indicate that our students, due to the additional portfolio requirement, will lose over 30 percent of their total instructional time over the course of the second semester if we implement the portfolio passages in addition to our required reading 3D assessments and district benchmark assessments," according to Kannapolis City Schools' letter to the state Department of Public Instruction.

In other business:

• The N.C. Department of Public Instruction approved the request from Vance County Schools to establish a new school for the Early High School STEM program. Superintendent Ronald Gregory said the program will open as a new school July 14.

• The four snow days will be made up March 26, June 9, June 10 and June 11. If additional snow days occur, students will attend school on Saturday of the week of inclement weather.