Academic performance at North Carolina's public schools dropped significantly last year, and many school leaders say a higher standard for reading is the culprit.
Reading exams were tougher last year and the state raised its performance expectations for those tests as well. As a result, school officials say, fewer students met the state's new goals.
UNC system President Erskine Bowles and Scott Ralls, president of the state's community college system, nonetheless are hailing the state's higher standards today, saying it will only lead to brighter students.
Here's what they said:
"We commend the State Board of Education's efforts to raise performance standards for North Carolina students. North Carolina competes in a knowledge-based global economy, and the expectations set by our state's education systems must reflect the increased knowledge and skills required to be successful in today's workforce.
Both the University of North Carolina and the N.C. Community Colleges have made improving retention and graduation rates our top priorities. Together with steps we are taking within our respective systems, the State Board's commitment to rigorous standards for students will lead to increasing numbers of North Carolina students finding success at our community colleges and universities. This is the right agenda for our students and our state."