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Midyear elementary school reading assessments up 22%

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(The Center Square) – Midyear elementary school reading assessments in 2023-24 are up 22%, education leaders told the state Board of Education in its Wednesday meeting.

The 2021 Excellent Public Schools Act required all K-5 literacy educators to be trained in the science of reading. The national rate is just 13%.

“Elementary educators have been putting the science of reading into practice throughout the past three years, and the results speak for themselves,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said in a statement. “This growth and continued progress is critical to ensuring our youngest learners are in the position to read, lead and succeed throughout their academic journey. Improving reading proficiency for students in North Carolina has been a priority for me since I stepped into office, and I’m so proud of what our students and educators have accomplished.”

Reading proficiency has been steadily increasing since passage of the Excellent Public Schools Act, according to the Department of Public Instruction. The legislation required literacy educators to take the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling course, a two-year professional development program.

It is often known by its acronym, LETRS.

While scores are increasing across all subgroups of students, “achievement gaps persist among Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children and their white and Asian peers,” the Department of Instruction said.

“There is much to celebrate, between students’ continued growth and nearing LETRS’ full implementation,” Amy Rhyne, NCDPI’s director of the Office of Early Learning said in a statement, “but there is still work to be done to support all elementary students in their reading journey.”

The news Wednesday was not as good, however, about teacher attrition rates in North Carolina.

The rate for the 2022-23 school year was 11%, up from 7.8% in 2021-22, educators told the board in a presentation.

For beginning teachers, the rate was 15.1%.

“As shared in today’s presentation, North Carolina’s increase in attrition mirrors national trends yet still remains lower than projections for the national average,” the Department of Instruction said in a statement.

The teacher vacancy rate also increased from 5.9% to 6.4%, the state said.

“Context from the presentation shows that North Carolina’s vacancy rate is lower than other public sectors, including in North Carolina state government,” the Department of Instruction said in a news release.

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