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MDE: ‘Large majority’ of 3rd graders pass reading assessment

Photo by News Mississippi

The large majority of Mississippi’s 3rd graders passed the 3rd-grade reading assessment after the final retest, with 85.6% meeting the highest reading standard ever required under the Literacy-Based Promotion Act.

District-level pass rates are published in the Literacy-Based Promotion Act Annual Report of Performance and Student Retention for the 2018-19 school year.

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA) requires 3rd graders to pass a reading assessment to qualify for promotion to 4th grade, unless the student meets one of the good cause exemptions specified in the law. Exemptions apply to certain students with disabilities, students learning English or students who have been previously retained.

Local school districts determine which of their students who did not pass qualify for one of the good cause exemptions for promotion to 4th grade. Districts also consider their local promotion and retention policies for making determinations.

The LBPA was amended to raise 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. The passing score was raised to get closer to measuring proficiency. Under the lower reading standard, the initial pass rate was 85% in 2015 and 93.2% in 2018.

Courtesy of MDE

“Once the reading standard was increased, students proved they could meet, and exceed, the higher expectation,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.” “In 3rd grade, students begin to make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. They need strong reading skills to perform well in every subject and to progress throughout school.”

In previous years, the law required 3rd graders to score above the “lowest achievement level.” The new passing score, level 3, indicates a student is approaching grade-level expectations. Level 4 means a student has mastered grade-level reading standards.

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act takes a comprehensive approach to building the capacity of teachers and school leaders to effectively teach reading and implement an ongoing system to monitor student progress. 

The law enables the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to deploy literacy coaches to schools where data show students struggle the most with reading. Coaches work directly with teachers and administrators to help them become more effective teachers of reading.

In 2018-19, 80 MDE literacy coaches served 182 schools statewide. In addition, the MDE provides professional development related to teaching reading to teachers, school administrators and faculty in teacher preparation programs.

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