NEWS RELEASES 2015-16 :: OCTOBER 1, 2015


Seventy-six percent (89,906 students) of North Carolina public school third grade students met the reading proficiency standards under North Carolina’s Read to Achieve program according to the Improve K-3 Literacy Accountability Measures report. State Board of Education members approved the report’s findings at their October meeting in Winston-Salem. This figure is down from the 79 percent reported in 2013-14.

These third graders demonstrated reading proficiency through one of the following options:

  • passing the Beginning-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
  • passing the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
  • passing the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment retest;
  • passing the Read to Achieve Alternative Test;
  • passing an alternative assessment for reading; or
  • successfully completing the reading portfolio.

Another 10.4 percent (12,360 students) of students were exempt from third grade retention for good cause (affects English Language Learners and some students with learning disabilities). In total, 86.4 percent or 102,266 students were promoted to the fourth grade.

The remaining 13.6 percent (16,089 students) of third graders were either retained in the third grade or placed in transitional or accelerated fourth grade classes with special identification to provide them with extra reading help. Overall, 118,355 third grade students were tested.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, “By looking at schools that have successfully increased third grade reading proficiency, we found that many of them use similar intervention strategies. It’s important that we communicate what is working in these schools so that all our third graders can experience success.”

When NCDPI staff analyzed reported reading interventions used by districts in 2014-15 in comparison to end-of-grade proficiency rates and retentions, staff found that districts experiencing success in increasing third grade reading proficiency:

  • employed direct and focused instruction on the foundational skills in reading;
  • provided intervention and tutoring time outside of the normal reading block;
  • utilized small group and individualized instruction; and
  • targeted instruction that was aligned to the individual needs of students.

The North Carolina Read to Achieve Program is a component of the Excellent Public Schools Act passed by the North Carolina General Assembly during its 2012 session. The goal of the program is to ensure that every third grade student is reading at or above grade level by the end of the school year.

Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive extra support, including reading camps, guaranteed uninterrupted blocks of reading time, and intensive reading interventions so that they will be more prepared to do fourth grade work.

Of the 20,240 students eligible to attend a reading camp held by local districts during the summer, 12,586 (62.2 percent) students attended. Of that number, 4,151 (33 percent) were reading proficiently at the end of the camp. In 2013-14, 12,827 students attended reading camps and 26.7 percent (3,426) were deemed proficient at the end of camp.

Atkinson noted the drop in the percent of students who took advantage of the summer reading camps from the previous year. “We hope parents and students will take advantage of the summer reading camps and the extended learning opportunity they provide,” she said. Atkinson added that in summer 2016, the camps have been extended to first and second graders to give them that little extra help they may need to stay on track.

Students who are retained may be placed in a third grade accelerated class, in a third/fourth grade transition class with a retained reading label, or in a fourth-grade accelerated class with a retained reading label. If these students retake the reading test by Nov. 1, complete a reading portfolio, or pass a local alternative test and demonstrate proficiency, the retained reading label is removed from their record.

Students who do not achieve reading proficiency by Nov. 1 in the year after third grade will continue to have the opportunity to show proficiency via local alternative assessments or a completed portfolio throughout the rest of their fourth-grade year in order to have the retained reading label removed.

To view the full report, visit the NCDPI K-3 Literacy Read to Achieve website.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.