by Anna Manning
Carolina Journal‘s Kari Travis reports:
In 2013, North Carolina launched “Read To Achieve, which was supposed to help lagging kids reach literacy by third grade. Six years and $150 million later, the state has seen little success.
Republican legislators are ready to try again.
On April 1, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, a supporter of RTA, introduced Senate Bill 438, “Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019.”
“There is a lot to this bill,” Berger said during a Monday news conference. “The overarching theme is this: Read To Achieve is working well in some places, and needs adjustments in others. We want the best policies that put North Carolina students in a position to succeed. If some things need fixing, let’s fix them. And if some things are working well, then let’s replicate those.”
RTA is largely a disappointment, a 2018 study from N.C. State University and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation concluded.
Students who were exposed to the program between 2013 and 2015 showed no improvement in reading mastery “when compared to similar students who were not identified for the program,” the university’s analysis states.
There is a disconnect between some of RTA’s policies and actual operations on the district- and school-level, Trip Stallings, director of policy research at the Friday Institute, said in a news release. Those might account for the disappointing outcomes, he said.
Other states have enacted successful literacy efforts similar to those in S.B. 438, said Berger. The Senate leader said he is optimistic the state can improve RTA if lawmakers take notes on how to improve.
“Kudos to lawmakers for recognizing that the Read to Achieve early literacy initiative was not working for many children throughout the state. It will take years to determine if the measures proposed by the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019 will raise student achievement in reading, but I believe that it is a step in the right direction,” said Terry Stoops, director of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
Read more here.