“Our students need to be able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. Teachers, leaders, parents, and volunteers ALL play a role in creating a generation of strong readers.”
Early Childhood Education
Many parents mistakenly, yet understandably, assume that if their child shows up to school, they will be ready for their grade level. According to national tests, though, less than half of our fourth graders in North Carolina have the reading skills they need. This trend is common across our nation.
Early-grade teachers are working extremely hard to get students reading on track by the end of third grade, and we will do everything we can to support them. What we won’t do is make all the decisions for them in Raleigh. We want school leaders and teachers to partner with parents to decide what will be most effective for their students.
When we discovered that past practices at the Department of Public Instruction resulted in funds not making it out of Raleigh, we delivered $200 per K-3 classroom to support literacy. For the 2018-19 school years, every K-3 reading teacher received a brand-new iPad or comparable device to use in the classroom and a new classroom book set that goes with the reading diagnostic tool.
Based on feedback from educators, we have also taken steps to reduce the time teachers and students must spend taking tests in the early grades.
In North Carolina, we have supported more pre-K programs and smaller class sizes in the K-3 years to enhance literacy support for our youngest scholars. Additionally, the Read to Achieve program provides funding for expert literacy training for K-3 teachers, reading diagnostics for their classrooms, and even summer camps for students who need more help.
We will soon announce even more supports for teachers, but this load is too heavy for teachers and lawmakers to carry alone. We must empower all to play a part in shaping young learners. Parents, caretakers, and volunteers have to play a role.
Through the NC Reads program, anyone can get involved. NC Reads is a statewide clearinghouse to connect book drives, volunteers, preschool programs, parents, and other stakeholders, all around the idea of supporting students before they even get to kindergarten, when they're in kindergarten, to third grade and beyond.