By Theo Helm, Director of Marketing and Communications, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

(From Katie) ~ A reader recently wrote to us asking if we could feature a post about “Read to Achieve” after she saw this post about the Common Core. Once again I reached out to Theo Helm to craft a Q&A on this topic. Just like last time, Theo will be on-hand to answer your questions about “Read to Achieve.” Just leave your question or concern below as a comment, and then check back within 24 hours to read Theo’s response.

What is Read to Achieve?
Read to Achieve is legislation designed to make sure that every student is reading at grade level by the end of third grade. It was created by lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly when they passed the Excellent Public Schools Act in July 2012, and it went into effect this school year. (You can see the law itself here.)

So what does that actually mean?
If your child passes the end-of-grade reading test in third grade, he/she moves on to fourth grade. Your child also can be promoted to fourth grade if his/her reading portfolio shows that he/she is proficient in reading.

What is a portfolio?
Portfolios are standard across the state and based on objective measures. They include tests and assessments given throughout the school year that show a student’s mastery of reading. Third-graders will start creating portfolios next month.

What if my child doesn’t pass the test or qualify through the portfolio?
Then teachers will work with him or her on reading skills to prepare for a second test. The second test will be in the next 10 school days after the first test. If your child passes this test, then he/she moves on to fourth grade.

If your child does not pass the second test, he/she will need to attend a summer reading camp. Summer reading camps will be held at schools throughout the county for six weeks during the summer. If you choose not to send your child to a summer reading camp, he or she will repeat third grade.

In the summer reading camp, teachers will work with students to improve their reading skills. By the end of the camp, students will either take another test or create a reading portfolio. If your child passes the test or creates a portfolio showing reading proficiency, he/she will be promoted to fourth grade.

What if a child is still not proficient after the summer reading camp?
Then he/she will be placed in a fourth-grade transitional class. The class will focus on the fourth-grade curriculum while offering extra reading instruction. Students will be able to take another test in November to be promoted to fourth grade.

What does my child do if he/she passes the test in November?
He/she will stay in the same classroom and continue to learn along the fourth-grade curriculum. Your child will take the fourth-grade end-of-grade test at the end of the year.

What if my child is not promoted in November?
Your child will continue to receive extra help in reading and work on a reading portfolio to show proficiency by the end of the year. Your child will take the fourth-grade end-of-grade test at the end of the year, and promotion will be decided by the principal.

How will the principal decide that?
The principal will look at all aspects of the student, including scores on tests and assessments, growth over the year and social maturation, and decide whether to promote the student to fifth grade.

What can I do to help my child?
Read! And talk! Parents often think the answer to this question should be complicated, and certainly some children need more help to learn to read. But all children will benefit from reading at home. Even just 15 minutes a day will make a big difference in your child’s achievement. When you can’t read, talk to your child. Ask lots of questions and let your child answer at length. It’s a great way to for a child to develop vocabulary and thinking skills.

Did today’s post help you? Do you have additional questions? If so, leave a comment below and Theo will try and answer you within 24 hours.