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Third-graders read below state

NATCHEZ — A little more than 56 percent of Natchez Adams School District third-graders who took the English Language Arts academic assessment in April passed the test on their first attempt while just fewer than 75 percent of third-graders statewide passed the test.

Students must pass each portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program to be eligible for promotion to the next grade unless they meet exemption requirements, said Alice Morrison, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Natchez-Adams School District.

So far, third-grade students have had two opportunities to pass the English Language Arts portion, Morrison said, adding the results of the second attempt taken May 16 have not yet been released.

The final retest would be administered to students later this summer after students who have not passed the test complete summer remediation courses, Morrison said.

According to test results issued by the Mississippi Department of Education on Wednesday, 74.5 percent of third-grade students statewide passed the English Language Arts portion of the test last month.

In Natchez Adams School District, 56.5 percent of students passed the ELA portion in April, prior to their second attempt. Of those Natchez-Adams School District third-graders who passed the test in April, 43.5 percent are from Joseph L. Frazier Elementary, 68.1 percent are from McLaurin Elementary and 56.9 percent are from Susie B. West Elementary School. Morrison said that last year students could pass the assessment with a lower score and fewer students passed this year as a result of the increased standard.

“(Last year) Third-grade students had to earn a passing score of a Level 2 or above in order to be promoted to fourth-grade,” Morrison said. “This school year, students had to earn a passing score of Level 3 or above in order to be promoted to fourth-grade.”

Morrison said the district has increased its standards for promoting students in lower grade levels in order to help them to fulfill the state’s standards later on.

“We know that in order for students to enter third-grade on grade level, we must start preparing them in kindergarten,” Morrison said. “We have implemented a policy which states that kindergarten students must master major standards before being promoted to first-grade. This will give them a solid foundation as they transition through the grade levels. The plan for next year is to continue to work with our parents to provide strategies that can be used at home. Additionally, we will build intervention blocks into our daily instructional schedules.”