Hundreds of Forsyth County Third Graders Are Not Proficient in Reading

Hundreds of Forsyth County Third Graders Are Not Proficient in Reading

8:37am Aug 27, 2014
Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory tells WFDD's Keri Brown that the district is looking at several strategies to help struggling students improve their reading skills. More than 600 third grade students who did not meet testing requirements were retained or placed in transitional classrooms.
Theo Helm

  Winston-Salem Forsyth County School officials say a lot more work needs to be done to improve the reading skills of third graders.

On Tuesday, the school board received the latest results of  the Read to Achieve law . Of the more than 4,000 students tested throughout the past school year, a little more than 58 percent were found proficient. Overall, 15.3 percent of third graders were held back or placed in transitional classrooms this year.

Dr. Beverly Emory, the superintendent of the district, says the results show the importance of early intervention programs for struggling students.   “The number is fairly consistent for us over time, about 60 percent of our kids in third grade (are) proficient, so it’s really a clear sign that what we are doing early on, we have to be more aggressive about... It is not just a third grade issue.”

This summer was the first year that school districts were required to hold summer reading camps for third-graders who weren’t reading on grade level by the end of the school year.  

More than 600 students attended the camps. School officials say by the end of the program, only 18 percent of the participants were judged proficient.  

According to Emory, Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools were forced to eliminate around 100 teaching assistant positions this year because of state funding cuts, a resource that could have helped grow more literacy programs. But she says the district is looking at several ways to fill in the gaps.

“We have some additional teaching positions that we haven’t filled that could be converted to teaching assistants. We are looking at more summer programming...we are looking at different technologies that could help kids that are more individualized and help teachers better diagnose their skills during the school year,” says Emory.

Earlier this month, Guilford County released results for its summer reading program. By the end of their camp, more than 3/4 of the students still were not able to pass the tests.

Meanwhile, all school districts in North Carolina must report their proficiency results to the state Department of Instruction by September 1st.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools Read to Achieve Results:

  • 4,044 third-graders were tested.
  • 2,358 (58.3%) were proficient -- either through the beginning-of-grade test, the ELA reading assessment, the end-of-grade test, or the end-of-grade retest.
  • 1,685 (41.7 %) were not proficient.
  • Of those not proficient, 727 qualified for summer school. (The remainder could be promoted because they passed an alternate assessment or received a good-cause exemption. Some of those attended summer reading camps, but they did so to enhance their reading skills, not because it was necessary to be promoted.​)
  • Of the 734 who qualified for summer school, 601 (81.9%) attended it. 
  • Of the 601 who attended, 109 (18.1%) were judged proficient by the end of the camp.
  • 618 students (15.3% of all tested) are retained or in transitional classrooms to start the 2014-15 year.

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