WJTV News Channel 12 - RALEIGH: NC House approves Senate changes to reading tests

NC House approves Senate changes to reading tests

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina's General Assembly approved tweaks to state reading mandates for third-graders Thursday, and they now await approval from the governor.

The House agreed Thursday to the Senate's changes for the reading program in response to complaints from school administrators and parents.

The change expands the testing window and gives parents the authority to decide whether their child will attend a reading camp if they fail the test. It also directs the state Board of Education to give alternate reading assessments if a district requests it and gives local districts more flexibility with evaluating test grades and creating reading camps that are at least 72 hours outside normal instruction time, over a three-week period.

Several lawmakers said the changes don't go far enough in fixing the problems with the testing standards they say were rushed to begin with.

"The bill is a starting point. ... The problem is it does very little to deal with the clear problems we got all the phone calls on," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

But the majority said the changes needed to be in place before reading camps start this summer and said school districts said the changes would fix their immediate concerns.

Sending the bill back to the Senate may result in a worse bill, said Rep. Charles Jeter, R-Mecklenburg.

"We get 70 percent of what we want here, let's take it and put it on the shelf," he said. "I'm not sure we get it back as good as it is today if we send it back over there. ... Don't let great be the enemy of good."

Critics said that the changes and reading mandates make no difference in light of the other cuts public schools are facing in the state. Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, noted that with teachers leaving the state because of low pay and cuts to school budgets and increased class sizes, "who among us believes that 72 hours after the end of third grade will really make a difference?"

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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