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North Carolina Senate leader again seeks retooling of reading program

North Carolina’s most powerful state senator is trying again to retool a student reading comprehension program that he’s championed for years but which hasn’t met performance goals.

Senate leader Phil Berger scheduled a Monday news conference with other Republicans to unveil the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021.

It was Berger who in 2013 helped pass the “Read to Achieve” program, which seeks to ensure students are reading-proficient before they complete third grade. Those who aren’t could be held back. A 2018 university study found no benefit on reading scores from the program.

Berger’s 2019 “excellent schools” legislation made program changes, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it.

While Cooper said the 2019 changes weren’t enough to address a program that was ineffective and costly, Berger suggested the veto was simply partisan. The initial 2019 bill actually was developed with a Cooper appointee on the State Board of Education.

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