Lowering test bar necessary

Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer: With one vote, the N.C. Board of Education ensured that thousands of third-graders can advance without having to attend summer reading camps.

Board members split 8-4 over reducing standards in a new state program to test whether students can read by fourth grade.

Rollout of the program has been flawed. The board had to allow many districts to develop alternative testing regimens. Republican legislators accused Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson of sabotaging implementation by dragging her feet, introducing materials to schools months too late. Atkinson has been critical of the legislation itself.

Involving students in political games would have been pointless. The board’s actions were probably necessary. But the original goal remains important. Students in fourth grade and up can’t learn much in subjects like science and social studies if they don’t read.

Wrong message

One of those who voted against lower standards, Becky Taylor of Greenville, expressed concern that parents would get the wrong message and not realize if children need help. She’s right.

This change was needed, but it should be temporary while legislators correct broader problems with the new program’s execution, then restore higher standards.

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