BEAUFORT — A state report released Wednesday shows 6.3% of Carteret County public school third-graders failed to meet state promotion standards in reading for the 2020-21 academic year, with 39% not meeting proficiency.
Statewide, 31% of third-graders failed to meet promotion standards, with 56.3% not achieving proficiency.
The Read to Achieve Report, released during the State Board of Education meeting in Raleigh, shows that 60.8% of county third-graders demonstrated reading proficiency by the end of the academic year, compared to 43.7% statewide.
The retention rates are higher in 2020-21 than prior to the pandemic. In 2018-19, the county’s retention rate for third-graders was less than 5%. Statewide, the retention rate for third-graders was 17.7%. The state did not test or retain students in 2019-20 due to the pandemic.
Retained students must either repeat third grade, be placed in a fourth-grade accelerated class or a transitional third-fourth grade class. Students are retained until they achieve reading standards.
Of the 2020-21 county scores, Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson acknowledged there was work to do to catch students up on what was lost during the pandemic, when in-person instruction was limited during certain periods, and other students learned virtually.
“Our teachers, principals, and support staff are working hard to address the individual learning needs of our students,” he said Thursday. “We have been pleasantly surprised by how well some students did during the previous year with all of the challenges and saddened by how other students fell further behind.”
Dr. Jackson said the school system has hired additional staff this year to address learning needs.
“These curriculum interventionists are working individually with students and with small groups to target the specific learning objectives students have yet to master,” he said. “Teachers are working harder than ever to plan and deliver high-quality learning opportunities for students to ensure that every moment is maximized.”
The state’s Read to Achieve program was created in 2012 to attempt to get more students proficient in reading by the end of third grade.
Dr. Jackson said while there was much to do, he was pleased with how the county continues to outpace many districts in the state.
“The tremendous success of our students compared to their peers across the state may be attributed to a number of factors. First and foremost, our dedicated teachers are absolutely committed to meeting the individual needs of each of our students. Their passion for helping children achieve at the highest levels is clearly demonstrated in the achievement of our students.”
He also pointed to a new reading program, Into Reading, rolled out in all elementary schools in 2020-21.
“For the 2020-2021 school year, credit must also be given to the parents, grandparents and others who stepped up to help support learning during hybrid learning when students were learning from home. Finally, I am also convinced that being one of the first districts in the state to safely return our students to school contributed to student success as we know our students learn best when they are in class with our amazing teachers,” he continued.
In addition to traditional public schools, the report contains results for charter schools. For Tiller School, a kindergarten through grade five charter school in Beaufort, 80% achieved proficiency in third grade reading, with less than 5% failing to meet promotion standards.
Of county public school third-graders who did not achieve proficiency in 2020-21, many attended a summer reading camp and were retested. Of those retested, 6.3% were retained for failing to meet proficiency at the end of the camp.
Other third-graders were exempt from mandatory retention for various reasons or took and passed an alternative assessment.
The Read to Achieve Report also revealed the reading comprehension skills of first- and second-grade students. Of county first-graders, 65.3% demonstrated grade level reading comprehension, with 72.5% of county second-graders showing reading proficiency. That compares to 38.5% of first-graders and 43.1% of second-graders statewide achieving adequate reading comprehension.
The Read to Achieve report mirrors results of county and state end-of-grade and end-of-course exams for 2020-21, released in September. That report showed that 61.1% of Carteret County students in grades 3-12 scored proficient, or at Level III, on EOG and EOC tests. That compares to 45.4% of students statewide.
No EOG or EOC test data was reported in 2019-20, so the timeliest comparison for performance on the state tests was in 2018-19, when 72.7% of county students scored proficient on the tests. Statewide, 58.8% of students scored proficient in 2018-19.
While the EOG and EOC county results were lower than previous years due to COVID-19 affecting schools, a report released in September shows Carteret County ranked third in North Carolina on state tests in 2020-21, with Union County ranked first and Chapel Hill-Carrboro ranked second.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.