“Frankly this number should scare and appall everyone in this room.”
UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey offered a sobering assessment Thursday of recent North Carolina reading scores and the system’s efforts to improve literacy instruction.
A report released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) last fall showed just 32% of North Carolina’s fourth graders were at or above proficient in reading in 2022.
Ramsey told board members that students who can’t read by the end of the third grade are much less likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and complete a degree.
“If a child can’t read, how can they study science, history, math, or literature? How can they grow up to become a teacher, an engineer, a doctor, a nurse, an electrician, a plumber a carpenter?” Ramsey asked. “This burden falls especially hard on low-income and minority children, who are most likely to be left behind.”
State leaders have spent million to improve scores through an evidence-based approach commonly called the Science of Reading.
But a consultant’s report delivered last week to the UNC Board of Governor shows that effort to train prospective teachers in how deliver reading instruction is inconsistent.
In its review of literacy coursework across the 15 University of North Carolina institutions that train teachers, Teacher Prep Inspection-US (TPI-US) ranked only one school as ‘strong.’ Five rated ‘good.’
For nine other programs, consultants found that “significant course content and/or faculty teaching improvements are needed” to ensure that teachers understand and can apply the science of reading concepts.
Vice chair Wendy Murphy noted that this April will mark two years since the NC General Assembly passed and Governor Cooper signed legislation mandating that literacy instruction be based on the science of reading. She said the board should be outraged that more two-thirds of the fourth graders in our state are not proficient in reading.
“How would these statistics move each of us if we were discussing our favorite ball team? 68% of the team cannot shoot a free throw,” said Murphy in offering a sports analogy. “What if a surgeon about to perform a procedure on you had a 32% success rate? We would be outraged, and rest assured we’d be looking for solutions and other options.”
Murphy said while a student’s reading success may start with parents, UNC’s education schools that train North Carolina’s teachers are an important piece of the puzzle and must step-up. Read more