Community help praised by school district

Sep. 04, 2014 @ 03:55 PM

Third-graders’ reading proficiency has doubled in Vance County Schools, according to the 2013-2014 Read to Achieve results.

The district released official data Monday showing 47.7 percent of third-graders met the state’s standards for reading, some passing benchmarks and assessments even before the school year started.

The Read to Achieve program is part of the Excellent Public Schools Act and requires all students falling short of year-end reading goals to receive coaching that brings their abilities to standard or be retained.

During the 2012-2013 school year, only about 24 percent of local third-graders met legislative requirements.

Assistant superintendent Trixie Brooks said there was considerable progress being made, thanks to a community-wide effort, but there was more work to be done.

“We are much improved, but our goal is to have all of our students reading at proficiency level by the end of third grade, and we need everyone’s help to do that,” she said. “It’s a monumental task.”

According to the reports, Vance County had about 52 percent of third-graders who did not demonstrate proficiency at the end of the year. Of those, 27 percent took and passed an alternative form of testing, such as the state’s read to achieve assessment, administered before and after summer camp.

About 6 percent of third-graders qualified for good cause exemptions, in which a special permit allows them to move to the next grade without going to summer school.

About 28 percent — 157 students — didn’t pass any of the local or state tests.

“Those are the kids we have to keep our radar on,” Brooks said. “Those are the kids we have to continue to assess to make sure they are proficient before they can go to a fourth grade class.”

Vance County Schools hosted a multi-county Read to Achieve workshop Friday, in which Wake County, Nash County, Johnston County, Warren County, Granville County, Northampton County, Edgecombe County, Franklin County and Rocky Mount school districts attended.

Claudia Lanier, the state’s Department of Public Instruction K-3 literacy consultant for Region 3, presented updated information on the program changes, where districts can look for funding and teaching strategies.

Vance County Schools’ literacy specialist, Sharon Hopper, said the meeting pulled together school districts to get a handle on changing legislation.

“The law has been very difficult for us to interpret,” she said.

A student who is retained after third-grade either goes to a transitional classroom or accelerated reading class, with the option of mid-year promotion.

If help is still needed, schools must provide intensive reading support. The school principal then has final authority to promote or find efforts to further develop the student.

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.