New reading standards should not be delayed

Apr 24, 2014

Reading is a crucial skill that must be mastered early on to ensure a student’s success throughout his or her educational career. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

That is why North Carolina’s reading curriculum standards were made more rigorous in 2012 through the Read to Achieve initiative, which is part of the Excellence in Schools Act.

The program offers assistance to third-graders who are not yet reading at grade level by providing a six-week reading camp in the summer. If a student doesn’t pass the end-of-grade test, they can go to the reading summer camp to get caught up before entering fourth grade. If students go to camp and still aren’t on grade level, they can enter fourth grade and receive extra help from teachers. But if a student is unable to attend the camp, he or she will be held back.

The Haywood County school board has asked the state to hold off on implementing the new standards because administrators and teachers are worried about the stress it is putting on teachers and students. There are also the barriers that may keep students from attending the summer camp.

While we understand the school board’s desire to protect its teachers and students from unnecessary pressure, the inevitable shouldn’t be delayed when it comes to reading ability. The new program still gives students every chance to succeed.

It doesn’t matter if these students in third grade didn’t start the more rigorous curriculum in kindergarten — we need to get them on track now. A six-week summer camp is a small sacrifice for students to make now to set the stage for their future success.

With reading specialists, after-school tutors and remediation specialists already on hand in our schools, all of our third graders have the resources needed to be on or above their reading grade-level. Even with all these interventions in place, some students will still need to attend the summer reading camp.

The responsibility to make sure our students are prepared for the future rests on everyone’s shoulders — teachers, students and parents. Children should be encouraged to read at school and also at home.

Implementing new standards is never an easy task, but we must start somewhere.  It may be a bumpy road at first, but it is a road we must start down now.