Two-thirds of NC 8th graders aren’t ‘proficient readers’ by high school. Here’s how NC lawmakers are working to change that

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina lawmakers want to encourage kids to learn the science of reading and get them hooked on phonics.

“We’ve got to do something different to move the needle,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (D-Surry).

“Our students need more intensive resources in order to help them learn,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker-Kelly.

According to North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, roughly two-thirds of North Carolina 8th graders can’t read proficiently by the time they enter high school.

Truitt blames a new school way of teaching reading commonly known as the see it, say it method.

“We’ve got to get rid of those things that don’t work,” said Catherine Truitt.

SB387 seeks to have North Carolina follow states like Mississippi and Alabama teaching the phonics-based science of reading curriculum.

“We have to get back to a phonics-based approach of early literacy instruction,” said Truitt.

“We want our students to not only be proficient, but we want them to experience growth,” said Walker-Kelly.

While agreeing that a change needs to be made NCAE President Tamika Walker-Kelly says the bill is too similar to what’s already being done in K-3 classrooms across North Carolina.

“There are better, more reliable ways to teach reading students and they’re not invested in programs they’re invested in people like more teaching assistants to give that one-on-one direction to students,” said Walker-Kelly.

Berger says he’s determined to get SB387 passed as soon as possible.

“I’m convinced that this is something different,” said Berger.

However, it remains to be seen if SB387 will garner enough support to be signed into law.

“If after three or four years we’re not getting better results we need to go back and look again and see what needs to be done to improve the program,” said Berger.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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