To the Editor: How Well Does Your Child Read?


Research shows that the third grade reading score is predictive of a child’s success in school and in life. Not passing this critical benchmark will make the rest of school and life a challenge. Kids will struggle. Being pushed through the school system with insufficient reading skills will cause frustration and failure throughout their lives. The third grade reading pass rate for all demographic groups in Albemarle County has declined regardless of race or color over the past ten years and the “achievement gap” has widened. About 350 Albemarle third graders do not pass reading each and every year. That’s 3,500 kids who have been shortchanged during the past decade. That’s a lot of kids! Think about all the kids who are going to have a hard life because Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) didn’t teach them to read.

In Albemarle County, only 65.68% of third graders pass the reading SOLs. The ACPS third grade pass rate has been in the decline since the 2012/13 school year, when scores plummeted to 71.10%, from 85.62% the prior year. The scores have languished for a decade.

The reading pass rates at the four elementary schools in the western feeder pattern are 81.51% at Brownsville, 62.71% at Crozet, 77.59% at Meriwether Lewis and 95.45% at Murray. Disadvantaged kids and children of color have lower pass rates and an ever-widening “achievement gap,” which is the current hot topic among ACPS Central Office personnel and the School Board. (Hot, but apparently not urgent.) 

ACPS is tied for 60th place out of 132 school systems in the state. All the resources in Albemarle County and we rank 60th with a 65.68% pass rate. How can that be?

Again, the decline in third grade reading scores has affected ALL third grade groups regardless of race or color, and it started ten years ago. 

You have the power to change these statistics. You can vote out the people who brought you these unacceptable numbers—the ones who sat back after scores dropped and remained low for a decade under their leadership and the bureaucracy they support. You can vote out those who do not make literacy their NUMBER ONE priority. Your other choice is to keep the same ilk in charge and get more of the same—350 third graders each year and every year who can’t pass reading – maybe your third grader . . . 

Every child has the right to read! We need to step up and ensure that reading is the top priority in Albemarle County. Call, email, send letters, etc. to School Board members and attend School Board meetings and speak out. Ask School Board members and the Central Office what they are doing to ensure ALL our children can read. Ask them to explain how they are supporting teachers in the classroom using data to improve instruction, providing interventions to children who are not meeting benchmarks and providing professional development to our teachers to use an evidence-based curriculum and the five pillars of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Insist that reading needs urgent attention. Their “business as usual” pace will not do! Do not let them rest until they take care of this problem. Hold them all accountable. Our children deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. We cannot accept the failed policies and unsatisfactory results of the past 10 years. 

Lynda Harrill

Send your letters to the editor to [email protected]. Letters will not be printed anonymously. Letters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Crozet Gazette.


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