Read to Achieve: Where Should We Go from Here? Additional Outcomes, Analyses, and Suggested Next Steps for the Evaluation of North Carolina’s Read to Achieve Initiative

Overview

Our initial report on the impact of North Carolina’s Read to Achieve (RtA) initiative —a program designed to support on-grade reading mastery for all 3rd grade students—included results of our estimations of its impact on outcomes one and two years later for the first two cohorts of students. Overall results were null, showing neither positive nor negative outcomes for students overall or for subgroups of students.

We noted at the end of the report that one reason for the general lack of overall progress may be gaps between the RtA policy (such as the policy’s broad definition of reading proficiency and the assumptions it makes about the statewide availability of high-quality reading teachers) and several aspects of on-the-ground implementation realities (such as differences across school districts in program offerings and staff capacity, or variations in the services offered to retained students). Without additional data and analyses, however, we could only speculate.

The final section of that initial report offered three high-level recommendations for the state to consider for improving initiative outcomes. They included:

  • Providing greater financial and human capacity supports, with a goal of improving implementation fidelity statewide;
  • Identifying and scaling up local-level implementations with strong evidence of success; and,
  • Transitioning from a 3rd grade social promotion mindset to a literacy development mindset that spans all education settings leading up to and including 3rd grade.

As a follow-up to that report, we present in this brief additional analyses and reflections that may be of particular use to the primary implementing agency, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), as it considers ways to improve implementation, data collection, and analyses of the Read to Achieve program moving forward. Topics in this brief include:

  1. Results of Outcomes for Students Identified as Proficient Based on Local Assessments
  2. Student Outcomes for Different 4th Grade Placement Options
  3. Recommendations for Additional Data Collection and Future Analyses

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