Beaufort County first to roll out summer reading camp that will - WNCT

Beaufort County first to roll out summer reading camp that will soon be state-wide

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WASHINGTON, N.C. -

A new state law is putting pressure on your kids to be strong readers by third grade.

Starting next summer if they're not reading to standards by then, they will be required to devote part of their summer to it.

The law is being tested one year early in Beaufort County thanks to a $700,000 "Approaches to Literacy" grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education.

Eight-year-old Trey Cherry is one of 170 rising third graders who enrolled in the pilot summer reading camp aimed at helping students who need to improve their reading proficiency.      

With a focus on phonics, fluency and reading comprehension, the camp was a no-brainer for Trey's mom, Tori Cherry.  

"I'm scared for the end-of-grade test next year," she says. "That's my biggest concern for why right now, he's doing this program. I want him to be confident and comfortable."

Her concerns are understandable as more than 30 percent of third graders in our state failed their state end-of-grade reading tests in 2011.

"They have to get the basics, the foundations," says Alida Sawyer, the grant and camp director. "It's important to all areas of learning. So we feel like if we can get these students on grade-level by third grade, it's crucial to their success and independence."

So crucial, in fact, a new state law passed last summer will require all elementary schools to offer a similar camp by 2014.

All third graders who don't pass their reading E.O.Gs will have to attend or risk being held back. Beaufort County is now the first school system to get a jump-start.

"We're finding our flaws now," says Keith Mitchell, assistant principal at John Cotten Tayloe Elementary and a camp site supervisor. "We're finding what we're doing good and what we need to improve on. So going into next summer and having to do this, we're going to be very well prepared."

And for Trey, becoming a better reader now means he can one day, "read my kids a bedtime story."

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