Read to Achieve Resolution adopted; concerns remain

By Tanya Chilton tchilton@civitasmedia.com

March 28, 2014

The Elkin City Schools Board of Education adopted a Read to Achieve Resolution on Monday at its monthly meeting.

The resolution supports the Comprehensive Reading Plan requiring all third-grade students are proficient in reading and the optional use of the reading portfolio as a formative assessment measure.

However, a recent release by Elkin City Schools stated, “The ECS Board is concerned that the Read to Achieve legislation does not allow consideration for individual student growth; the increased burden on teachers, students and parents; the under-funded mandate of Summer Reading Camp; and the elimination of teacher autonomy with regard to student retention.”

It added, “The Elkin City Schools Board of Education is asking education officials, the State Board of Education and the NC Legislature to consider a ‘stay on the Summer Reading Camp’ until the issues can be addressed.”

Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said ideally it would be beneficial to help the student with the best potential summer camp learning model possible and is concerned the current summer reading camp mandate will not adequately meet the needs for students or teachers.

So far, there needs to be more considerations in areas such as teacher pay, transportation funding for bus services required for the summer camp program and making sure top teachers in their field are adequately paid in the summer reading program. In addition, there are issues of communication that still exist between teachers, students, parents and the community.

Bledsoe said it is important to help the community to see that not all kids learn at the same rate. He added that improving skills academically remains the goal and said it is important to understand that learning is a “process” and not a “program.”

The superintendent said it is important that legislation not “take away” the autonomy of educators trained in assessment methods or as trained professional educators in their areas of expertise.

“A lot of what they do is in student learning,” said Bledsoe. He emphasized that kids’ needs are diverse and the importance of meeting them where they are academically.

”It is not a business where you are a putting blocks into the box, we take children and we help them develop reading, math, language arts, science and skills.”

In addition, the press release stated that the ECS Board of Education continues to support the efforts of students, teachers and administration in the Elkin City Schools district as reflected in the school system’s most recent recognition of having the highest percentage of teachers who meet or exceed student growth expectations in North Carolina, along with having the Highest Graduation Rate in North Carolina during the 2012-2013 school year.

With those facts, Bledsoe said that the public education system is not broken as some have said.

“Our teachers are doing a magnificent job.”

Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.