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Lincoln County third graders ace reading — Many scored higher than state average

Bogue Chitto, Enterprise and West Lincoln third-graders scored higher than the state average on the first administration of the reading test of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program, while Loyd Star and Brookhaven elementary were just slightly under.

Statewide, 93.2 percent of third-graders passed the test. The initial pass rate has increased every year since the test was first administered, rising from 85 percent in 2015, to 87 percent in 2016,  to 92 percent in 2017.

More than 60 school districts had a pass rate of 95 percent or higher including Bogue Chitto, and West Lincoln attendance centers in the Lincoln County School District.

Lincoln County School Superintendent Mickey Myers said the Mississippi Department of Education’s test results lump all of the top-performing schools together at equal to or more than 95 percent. He said the district’s average was 94.3 percent of third-graders passing the test the first time it was administered. West Lincoln results showed that 96.3 percent met the criteria of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which requires third-graders to pass a reading assessment to be promoted to fourth grade. Students are provided with three opportunities to pass the test.

Literacy Support Schools, which had literacy coaches assigned to them to provide support and training to teachers, had a pass rate of 88.4 percent this year, up from 87.5 percent in 2017, 78 percent in 2016 and 73 percent in 2015. Bogue Chitto, the only Literacy Support School in Lincoln County, had 96.4 percent of the third-graders meet LBPA, Myers said.

Other area schools with a pass rate of 95 percent or higher include Topeka Tilton in the Lawrence County School District, Wesson Attendance Center in the Copiah County School District and Franklin Lower Elementary School in the Franklin County School District.

The reading portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program is used to determine third-grade promotion, in addition to meeting the district’s academic requirements for promotion.

To meet requirements for Level 2, students must be able to apply phonetic analysis to decode unknown words, determine story elements, the main idea, and cause/effect in literary and informational texts, respond to literal comprehension questions and summarize short story selections, demonstrate an understanding of a variety of informational resources by following written directions and using captions, identify characters, settings, plots and genre, recognize the author’s purpose, use context clues to determine word meaning within context, identify visual representations in informational texts and recognize root words, prefixes and suffixes.

Since the 2014-15 school year, Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act has required that a student scoring at the lowest achievement level on the Third-Grade Reading Assessment be retained in third grade, unless the student meets the good-cause exemptions specified in the law. Local school districts determine which of their students who did not pass qualify for one of the good cause exemptions for promotion to fourth-grade.

The law was amended in 2016 to require students starting in the 2018-19 school year to score above the lowest two achievement levels in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. This means students need to score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of MAAP. Based on preliminary data for 2018 for the first administration of the test, 73.8 percent of students scored at level 3 or higher, up from 69.6 percent in 2017.

Also starting in 2018-19, alternate forms of the Questar-developed MAAP English Language Arts test will be used for retesting instead of the Renaissance-developed reading test that had been in use since 2015.

Myers said the Lincoln County School District is working to find innovative ways to get elementary students reading more. The LBPA “has created a little bit more of a deeper commitment to reading,” he said.

He said 90 minutes to two hours a day is allocated to reading instruction. He also encourages parents to push reading at home.

“Read to and with your child,” he said.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ray Carlock was out of town and unable to be reached.

For information about summer reading programs, contact local school districts. For more information about the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, visit www.mdek12.org/literacy.