Wake Ed

February 6, 2014

Wake schools allowed to use local tests for state Read To Achieve requirements

The Wake County school system can now say that third-grade students who scored a Level 3 or higher on either the first or second quarter CASE 21 assessments have already met the Read To Achieve proficiency requirements.

The State Board of Education approved today the request from Wake County and 29 other school systems to use local tests to show that third-grade students are meeting the promotion requirements in the Read To Achieve law.

Wake will now be able to say that third-grade students who scored a Level 3 or higher on either the first or second quarter CASE 21 assessments have already met the Read To Achieve proficiency requirements. This means that even if those students fail the state’s end-of-grade reading test, they won’t be required to attend summer camp or be held back because of that exam.

The approval does come with two stipulations.

The school districts must show that their request has been approved by the local school board and is signed by the local board chair.

The request must also contain a statement verifying that the school board “has determined that the requested Alternative Assessment is a valid and reliable standardized assessment of reading comprehension and demonstrates that a student is reading at or above the third grade level as required by the Read to Achieve Law.”

Wake’s request to the state came in a letter from James Overman, the school district’s senior director of elementary school programs.

On Tuesday, Todd Wirt, Wake’s assistant superintendent for academics, briefed the school board on the request to use CASE 21. No vote was taken, but it was clear that board members were in support of using CASE 21 and as many other exemptions as possible to reduce the use of the 36 minitests that are part of the reading portfolio process.

Pending state approval, Wake was going to implement this plan to not require the minitests for students who met the CASE 21 requirements, had a score of 442 or higher on the state’s beginning-of-grade reading exam or will take the state’s EXTEND 2 alternative reading exam. Wirt said that 6,800 of the district’s 12,109 third-grade students were covered by those three exemptions.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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