In 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation for the “Read to Achieve” initiative.
Over seven years later, it has not really achieved.
From an October 2018 Charlotte Observer report:
The General Assembly passed Read to Achieve legislation in 2012. It was modeled on literacy efforts in other states, including the “Just Read, Florida!” program created by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001. The goal in North Carolina was to end “social promotion” by keeping students in third grade until they could read at grade level and providing extra support to help them get there.
But in the years that followed the percent of North Carolina third- and fourth-graders graders passing state reading exams stayed flat or declined. National reading exams showed equally discouraging results.
First, we should never try and emulate anything that Jeb Bush does to “reform” education. Read to Achieve and the School Performance Grading system have done nothing to help our students except funnel money into private hands and create empty excuses for other “reforms.”
Secondly, this is a failure that lies on the part of Phil Berger who was one of its biggest champions when it was introduced as a NC initiative. He needs to own it, but he seems too busy trying to blame others for having no state budget rather than backing up his claims for his #NCSuccessStory.
The scores for those 3rd grade reading tests over the years are eye-popping.
That 2018 Charlotte Observer report referenced a comprehensive study by NC State in conjunction with the Friday Institute that found really no success in the Read to Achieve initiative on a state level.
However, on a local basis, there were some local initiatives that showed some promise. Look at pages 23-24 of the study report and see how actually fully funding a reading instruction initiative and supplying those initiatives with effective instructors makes a difference.
“Indeed, we have heard from many practitioners from across the state who believe their localized versions of RtA are having an impact on their students, but because of the sometimes very small size of the group of students impacted in most of the state’s (school districts), we are not able to test these intuitions statistically,” the report says.
In fact, fully funding schools and making sure that there are enough professionals in the rooms with the students are vital in any place. The fact that any success in this depends on the local professionals (teachers, assistants, administration) being able to dictate what can be done and having the faith that required resources will be available simply flies in the face of people like Berger who preach “smaller government” but actually practice more overreach.
Right now we as a state have no budget and all of our schools are closed. And if the state had any sense at all, it would go ahead and eliminate any testing mandated by the Read to Achieve legislation.
And then it should end the Read to Achieve program, take the money it would save needlessly spending for it, and invest it into more early childhood education opportunities.