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‘Reading gate’ may close on third-graders

More than 25 percent of Brookhaven Elementary students failed a toughened state reading test on the first try this spring, leaving it unclear if they will advance to the fourth grade. Just under 20 percent of  Lincoln County third-graders failed the test.

Mississippi Dept. of Education data shows 27.1 percent of third-graders in Brookhaven did not pass the “reading gate.”

Mississippi is one of 16 states that demands third-grade students pass a reading score threshold or fail. Mississippi raised its threshold this year, mandating students reach the middle of five scoring levels.

In Lincoln County overall, 19.9 percent of third-graders did not meet the threshold. Bogue Chitto had 27 percent of students failing; Enterprise had 16.9; Loyd Star had 18.5; and West Lincoln saw 17.3 percent of students fail the test.

Across the state, about 1-in-4 failed. Students had a second chance on the test last week, although those results aren’t yet available. Students get a third chance later this summer.

Officials predicted passing rates would drop from last year, when students had to reach the second level. The Chickasaw County school district has the top share of passing third graders at 94 percent. Yazoo City was lowest at 32 percent.

Students failing to reach the middle scoring level “will need additional interventions and supports,” according to MDE.