RALEIGH — The State Board of Education gave permission Thursday to 30 school districts to use local tests to show that third-grade students are meeting Read To Achieve promotion requirements.
That means thousands of third-grade students who pass the local tests in districts such as Wake County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Johnston and Chatham wont have to attend summer reading camps or take 36 new minitests.
The states other 85 school districts can submit requests as well.
The decision comes at a time when some parents, teachers and legislators have fretted that too many students will be forced to go to summer reading camps.
Under the 2012 Read To Achieve law, an attempt to end social promotion, most third-graders must show theyre reading at grade level before being promoted to fourth grade. Third-graders who fall short on the end-of-grade test may have to go to summer reading camps and pass a standardized test before they move up a grade.
One of the exemptions under Read To Achieve allows districts to develop a reading portfolio for students that shows theyre ready for promotion even though they didnt pass the end-of-grade reading exam. The portfolios were based in part on 36 new minitests.
When school districts announced they would require all their third-grade students to take the minitests, it produced a backlash. State schools Superintendent June Atkinson said the portfolios shouldnt be used for all students. She encouraged school districts to request state permission to use their own tests as an alternative to the portfolios.
School officials in Wake County, the states largest school system, requested permission, saying that third-grade students who scored a Level 3 or higher on local CASE 21 tests given earlier this school year have met the Read To Achieve requirements.
As part of the permission, the state board is requiring school districts to include a letter from their school board leader saying that the request is backed by the board and that the tests they want to use are a valid and reliable standardized assessment of reading comprehension.
Other school districts that werent included in Thursdays group must meet the same conditions.