Half of Adams County third graders pass reading assessment on first try

Published 4:23 pm Friday, May 27, 2022

NATCHEZ — According to an initial reading assessment that Mississippi third graders took last month, Adams County and the surrounding region have a lot of ground to cover to catch up with other schools statewide.

The Mississippi Department of Education announced Thursday that 73.9% of 31,068 Mississippi third graders received a passing score last month on their initial reading assessment for the 2021-22 school year. A little less than half of Natchez-Adams School District third graders earned a passing score during their first reading assessment.

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald Green said the results align with the district’s expectations based on the prior year’s assessment.

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“Keep in mind, these students were in the first grade when COVID-19 hit,” she said. “We applaud our students for the hard work they have shown. They had half a year of in-person instruction before taking this assessment. As second graders, they were in hybrid classes (half virtual and half in person). Going into this school year, this is the first time they have been in a classroom full time since the pandemic. We thank our teachers and our students for their hard work and dedication.”

Prior to COVID, McDonald said the third-grade pass rate on the initial test was a little bit higher.

In 2019, the pass rate was 84%. In 2020, during the pandemic, that dropped down to 49% and improved slightly for the 2021-22 academic year at 49.8%

The test provides teachers with “a preliminary snapshot of third graders’ literacy proficiency as schools emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to MDE.

The last time Mississippi third graders took the assessment in a normal school year was April 2019 when 74.5% of 34,998 students passed the initial test.

“The hard work of teachers, students and parents to overcome academic setbacks caused by the pandemic is paying off. The initial pass rate on this year’s third-grade reading assessment is nearly the same as the pre-pandemic pass rate,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I celebrate this accomplishment and acknowledge there’s more work to be done.”

A breakdown of the scores in Natchez-Adams School District shows that Joseph Frazier Elementary students did the best with 52.5% passing and 47.5% failing the assessment.

At McLaurin, 49.5% passed and at Susie B. West, 45.2% passed.

In neighboring Jefferson County, 43.2% of third graders passed and 56.8% failed the initial test.

Franklin County did better with 85.9% passing and 14.1% failing. In Amite County, 54.5% passed and 45.5.% failed and in Wilkinson, 54.1% passed and 45.9% failed the initial test.

In accordance with the Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA), third graders who do not pass the initial administration of the reading test are given up to two attempts to retest. After the final retest in 2019, 85.6% of third graders passed the test.

Students did not test in 2020 due to the pandemic. The test was given in 2021, but the passing requirement was waived so no retests were administered.

The LBPA became law in 2013 to improve reading skills of kindergarten through 3rd-grade students in public schools so every student completing the 3rd grade is able to read at or above grade level. The LBPA requires Mississippi 3rd graders to pass a reading assessment to qualify for promotion to 4th grade. An amendment to the law in 2016 raised reading-level expectations starting in the 2018-19 school year, requiring 3rd graders to score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) English Language Arts (ELA) assessment.

Students who did not pass the reading assessment on their first attempt last month were retested on May 9 through 13. The second retest window is June 20 through July 8. Some students may qualify for good cause exemptions to be promoted to 4th grade.

To see the district- and school-level initial pass rate report for 2021-22, Click here.