• 84°

Proposed Brookhaven School District pass/fail policy released

Elementary and middle school students in Brookhaven will have to hit specific numeric goals in reading and math to advance to the next grade, according to proposal documents obtained as the result of a public records request.

The Brookhaven School District Board of Trustees is considering a new promotion and retention policy for students in kindergarten through sixth grade that uses target recommendations from state kindergarten readiness standards, a state reading program and a national independent education data group. The draft policy was first discussed by board members in a regular meeting April 24 and tabled for further study. The board’s next meeting is May 22 at 6 p.m.

The proposal would require kindergartners to score at least a 592 on the Mississippi K-Readiness post test in order to advance to the first grade. It also states parental consent is not necessary for retaining students for a repeat year of kindergarten.

The policy would require students in first through fourth grade to reach benchmarks under the Accelerated Reader program and hit at least 70 percent of the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for language arts and mathematics in order to advance to the next grade.

First-graders must score an Accelerated Reader level of 1.2 (Independent Reader) or higher in order to pass, while second-graders must hit 2.0 (Super Reader), third-graders need 3.0 (Advanced Reader) and fourth-graders need 4.0 (Star Reader) in order to move up.

“If a student’s reading deficiency is not remedied by the end of the student’s third-grade year, as demonstrated by the students scoring below the minimum required achievement level in reading set by the Mississippi Department of Education on the state annual accountability assessment or on approved alternate standardized assessment for third grade, the student shall not be promoted to the fourth grade,” the policy states.

The draft policy goes on to allow third-graders failing the reading gate to advance to fourth grade for “good cause” as allowed by the Literacy-Based Promotion Act.

The policy would require fifth- and sixth-grade students to score at least a 70 in core subjects and land in target ranges on the end-of-year Measures of Academic Progress computerized tests compiled by the Northwest Evaluation Association, a not-for-profit educational services firm in Portland, Oregon.

If the policy is adopted, fifth-graders would need to score between 205-237 in math and 197-227 in reading in order to pass to sixth grade. Sixth-graders would need to score between 208-241 in the math assessment and between 201-231 in the reading test to advance to seventh grade.

The draft promotion and retention policy was made available at the central office Friday after The Daily Leader initiated a public records request Thursday.

The newspaper requested a copy of the policy Wednesday, but was told “the district does not report or print policies until they are officially approved by the board.” The Daily Leader contested this procedure on the grounds it does not give the public a chance to read into issues and respond to board members before policies are adopted.

The Daily Leader requested copies of the policy, pointing out the school district’s approach to releasing documentation did not align with the Mississippi Public Records Act.

“It is not in the district’s best interest to set it out to the public when there very well could be changes to it by the next board meeting,” Assistant Superintendent Rod Henderson said Wednesday via email. “It is simply our desire to keep down any confusion that could occur with our parents.”

The newspaper’s original story on the policy, “City schools consider new pass standard,” published in the weekend edition of The Daily Leader. The district made the draft policy available to pick up Friday morning, but the deadline for the story had passed.