A summer of learning

District’s reading program well-attended
Jul. 21, 2014 @ 05:42 PM

Vance County Schools’ summer reading program has been seeing higher attendance every day, according to summer school Principal Lanisha Daye.

“I am really impressed with the number of kids,” she said. “I think this is going to be very beneficial for them in the long term.”

This is the first summer since the state’s Read to Achieve law has been implemented.

The legislation requires third-grade students in North Carolina public schools demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of the year, based on their end-of-grade exams, in order to be promoted to fourth grade.

The law also allows students to attend a summer reading program in their district where they have another opportunity to take the exam.

Vance County Schools started the program on July 2, and it will run until July 31. Students meet Monday through Thursday at Aycock Elementary from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anne Joyner, Vance County Schools language arts curriculum specialist, said roughly 200 third-graders qualified for the summer program, and about 160 of those students are enrolled.

There were approximately 535 third-grade students enrolled in Vance County schools during the 2013-2014 school year, according to district spokeswoman Terri Hedrick.

Joyner said the law originally mandated students who don’t demonstrate reading proficiency to attend reading summer school.

“It is my understanding that the state could not require them to go longer than 180 days,” she said.

She said each student sees two different teachers in the course of the day — one teacher focuses on reading foundations and the other on reading comprehension.

“Within a four-hour block, they will receive about two hours of instruction from each teacher,” she said.

In March, the Vance County Board of Education adopted an alternate assessment to a third-grade reading portfolio, which was a component of the Read to Achieve law.

The board approved several assessments as alternatives to the portfolio, which is a compilation of 36 mini-quizzes based on the 12 third-grade Common Core Reading Standards.

Joyner said those alternative assessments would also be used to evaluate students at the end of the summer.

“We will be administering another standardized written assessment like the Read to Achieve or end-of-grade test and the Reading 3D written assessment to determine the reading level and reading comprehension,” she said.

Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the district is in the process of determining which students will not be promoted to fourth grade because the state is still adding qualifications to the law that would exempt certain students — such as those who are taking English as a second language classes.

“We are not making any hasty decisions,” she said. “We are not talking retention at this point because there are so many exemptions in the legislation.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.