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Wake County school board wants to change reading mandate

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Wake County School Board is hoping the state Board of Education will allow the school system to drop some of the testing required by the state's Read to Achieve guidelines.

The Read to Achieve law mandates third graders have to be able to read proficiently enough to be promoted to the fourth grade.

But the requirements are so stringent that there's a danger half of the state's third graders might not meet them, forcing the students into summer school if they wanted to be promoted.

There are five ways that students can prove they meet those standards, one of which is a series of 32 mini tests.

"Parents, teachers, administrators and school board members are beginning to understand that it's gotten out of hand and we need to reduce that excessive testing," said parent Ellis Hankins.

The Wake School Board would like permission to drop the mini tests and use alternative means to prove third graders can read at grade level.

"When kids are taking one test after another, teachers have less time to teach and students have less time to learn," Hankins said. "So let's find other ways and eliminate some of these tests that are unnecessary."

Any third grader who doesn't meet the reading goals will have to go to special summer school sessions known as Reading Boot Camps.

Under current standards, it's estimated that 50,000 of the state's 105,000 third graders could end up in those six-week camps in order to be promoted.

"We've taken an inventory at the school system level of different tests in the schools, and we're looking to see what's duplicative and how we can streamline the testing so we can have more instruction time," school board Chairwoman Christine Kusher said.

The state Board of Education will decide Thursday if it approves Wake County's plans for alternative testing.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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