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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Superintendent claims thousands of fourth graders lack state-mandated reading requirements


By John Breslin | Jan 4, 2020


More than 70,000 North Carolina third graders since 2014 have moved up a grade despite failing to meeting mandated reading requirements, claims the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Superintendent Mark Johnson alleged in a recent memo that the Board of Education and others have "gutted" the program designed to make sure that students can read to a particular standard before moving to fourth grade. Johnson also attacked former state employees of being involved in "aggressive work-arounds."

In a statement issued to the News Observer, State Board Chairman Eric Davis denied Johnson's allegations, stating that if there were policies contrary to the law, the General Assembly would have acted.

“The superintendent claims that the State Board enacted policy that violated state law about one of the General Assembly leadership’s most important education priorities,” Davis said in an email sent to the News Observer. “If the State Board had enacted policy contrary to law, the General Assembly would surely have taken action of which there is no evidence.”

Johnson's memo, however, implies "aggressive avoidance" by the State Board's policy.

“The North Carolina State Board of Education was tasked with implementing the Read to Achieve legislation,” the memo states. “Read to Achieve specifically directed the State Board of Education to end social promotion of 3rd graders — promoting students from one grade level to the next on the basis of age rather than academic ability. Sadly, the State Board’s policy aggressively avoided that directive.”

The News Observer noted that Read To Achieve has come under scrutiny as numbers suggest reading scores have declined since it first began in 2012. Reports have also emerged of a multi-million dollar contract to test the skills.

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