June Atkinson: Making assumptions

February 22, 2014 

Regarding the Feb. 16 letter “Misguided Atkinson”: I suggest that letter-writer read more about my stance regarding third-grade reading before making assumptions about my professional position and beliefs.

I believe that teaching third-grade students to read well is a primary purpose of elementary school. We know what contributes to strong readers: vocabulary development beginning at birth, quality preschool education, effective teaching and learning, extra time and assistance for some students, research-based and one-to-one tutoring and other factors.

I disagree with the writer’s statement that teachers cannot determine which students are reading at grade level. In addition, there are more effective strategies than retention to help students who are not reading at an appropriate level. The General Assembly’s Read to Achieve law acknowledges that fact through its provisions of “accelerated reading classes” and “transitional third- and fourth-grade class combinations” for students who are struggling with reading.

June Atkinson

State superintendent of Public Instruction

Raleigh

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