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Perspective | NC’s Teacher of the Year recommends moving from retention to instructional support for students who struggle with reading

Recently, the issue of our Read to Achieve law with specific concern to how districts are retaining students who do not meet the Read to Achieve pathway after the third grade has been brought up to the N.C. State Board of Education.

As the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I serve on the state board in an advisory role.

I was asked to share what Moore County Schools does with regards to retention as well as analyze the law to make recommendations for how to better fit third grade students who do not meet proficiency.

Retention misses the mark when it comes to how to help students improve their reading. Every educator that you bring to the table can tell you retention is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to students who are not reading proficiently. Instead of focusing on retention and putting students back in third grade and doing more of the same, I think every educator across North Carolina can really speak to the importance of providing deep, meaningful instructional support for our students who struggle.

We need to shift our focus and our conversation away from retention as a remediation tool and toward a three-pronged approach of providing substantial, statewide instructional support.

Professional development, personnel support, and curriculum support are the core functions of what we are called to do as educators to help meet the needs of all our students.

Mariah Morris

Mariah Morris is the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. She proudly teaches second grade at West Pine Elementary School in Moore County where she integrates STEM into her student-centered curriculum.