Fixing reading from A to Z

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With nearly 40 percent of the state's third graders unable to read proficiently, it's no wonder that reading is on the agenda in North Carolina. Senate Bill 795 takes a page from Florida's book, largely ending social promotion for struggling third grade readers while at the same time providing them with intensive remediation.

While its proposed end to social promotion has garnered the most attention, there are other aspects of the bill that, like Florida's approach, put more emphasis on prevention. Currently, North Carolina is one of nine states that do not require candidates to pass a test for initial licensure; SB 795 would address that oversight.

Furthermore, elementary teacher candidates would need a passing score on each content area sub-test, not just the composite score. Such a requirement would be a big step forward as it would ensure that teachers have the background knowledge needed to help students unlock the meaning of texts. The legislation would also require teacher prep programs to provide coursework to teachers on "the big five" of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Remediation and prevention in one bill -- seems like the right approach to us.

-Graham Drake