School district on right path with reading

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

Mississippi has raised the bar for third-grade readers. Will they give them a solid foundation from which to reach it?

When it comes to the state’s third-grade reading test, individual scores are not as important as the next steps the state and local districts take to make sure all students are reading at a high level.

A drop in the number of students who passed this year’s third-grade reading test compared to last year’s results was expected after the state made the exam more challenging.

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Since 2015, third-grade students across the state have been required to take the test to advance to the fourth grade.

In previous years, students had to reach the second of the test’s five levels to pass. This year, the students must reach the third level.

A little more than 56 percent of Natchez-Adams School District third-graders passed the test on the first try, a drop of 29 points from last year’s results. The number is well below the state average of 75 percent. Last year, 93 percent of the state’s third-graders passed the test.

As easy as it is to focus on the results, the more significant challenge is for educators to focus on what to do next to prepare students to reach and exceed the higher standards set by the state.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Natchez Adams School District said the school district is responding by focusing on kindergarten.

The district has set higher reading standards for kindergarteners to master, that Morrison says will give students a solid foundation as they transition through the first, second and third grades.

In our opinion, the school district is taking the right approach by focusing on habits and skills that begin during the earliest days of learning.