County schools preparing for summer reading program

By Chase Jordan

May 22, 2014

While updating the Sampson County Board of Education on a summer reading program, Jeana Moore described it as a ride on an ocean.

During a recent work session, the director of elementary education discussed Read to Achieve and what officials can expect. The purpose of the state legislative initiative is to help third-grade students who are not reading on their grade level, so they can succeed in the next grade. Exemptions from the program are based on assessments, class placements and scoring.

The six-week camp is scheduled to begin June 16 and will be held Monday through Thursday for three hours each day. During the week of the July Fourth celebration, there will be no sessions.

To make the program a success, the district needs 20 teachers and 10 teacher assistants. Some of the professionals will serve as bus drivers, coaches and cafeteria/custodian workers. Currently 28 teachers and 20 assistants have applied and selected applicants will be notified in June.

Moore said the district received $129,000 from the state to help with the camp. The district will determine how the money is spent and will provide additional funding.

“I anticipate that a good portion of that will take up salaries,” she said.

Some of the funds may also be used for transportation.

“That’s something we’ll look at when we determine how many folks we’re going to hire,” she said.

About 200 students are expected to attend the camp, which will held at two sites — one in the northern end of the county and one in the southern end. She anticipates the amount to drop with the completion of benchmark scoring near the end of the school year.

Moore said the majority of the participants will be ESL (English as a Second Language) and EC (Exceptional Children) students.

“When working with the coaches, we are finding that a good portion of our students EC and ESL,” Moore said during her presentation about the camp. “That’s the same thing I’m hearing from other districts as I talk to directors in other counties as well.”

There’s no attendance requirement. As an example, Moore said a student can attend only the first day and take the Read to Achieve on the last.

“If they pass that they’ll be promoted to fourth grade,” she said.

Students have several opportunities to take the test. If they fail, they will be placed in a transition class.

“So they’ll go into a fourth-grade class that’s considered a transition class with a third grade label,” she said.

That requires the district to provide a 90-minute intervention session with a reading specialist.

In November, the students will have another opportunity to take the Read to Achieve test.

Board vice chairwoman Faye Gay asked Moore if a lot of teachers were exiting the third grade because of the system. During the meeting, she also made a comment towards testing.

“It’s sad when a second-grader tells you, they don’t want to go to school because all they do is test,” Gay said.

Moore could not answer her question completely, but said she would not blame them.

“I told some of my folks that if I had 30 year in, I would have retired,” Moore said. “Like I said, it’s been a ride on an ocean with Read to Achieve and it’s going to continue.”