MDE: Kindergarten-ready scores fall

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, November 25, 2021

Test results released recently by the state of Mississippi show the percentage of Mississippi children considered ready for kindergarten fell during the pandemic.

Only 31.8% of kindergarteners scored “kindergarten-ready,” stated the Mississippi Department of Education through the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. This number is down from 36.6% in 2019 and 36.1% in 2018; they did not release any scores from 2020.

“The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment is further proof of the pandemic’s impact on students in the state,” said State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright in a press release.

“Mississippi’s kindergarten teachers are outstanding,” she added. “Yearly, their hard work leads to significant gains for the state’s youngest students, and I anticipate seeing those gains when students are retested in spring 2022.”

The test evaluates early literacy skills and the score refers to students being able to identify most letters of the alphabet, match most letters to their sounds and show building their vocabulary and understanding of print. The optimal score is 530.

The department related that research shows 85% of students who score 530 or higher on the assessment at the beginning of kindergarten are proficient in reading at the end of third grade.

The Clarion-Ledger reported the 2021 Pre-Kindergarten Readiness assessment also showed a decline in readiness, with 13% of 4-year-old students tested at or above the threshold. That is down from nearly 16% in 2019. It also reported that about 10% of students in other Pre-K programs, such as Title I and special education programs, met state standards. Roughly 14.3% of students met the same standard two years ago.

Within the Lincoln County School District, teachers have adapted curriculum to aid incoming kindergarteners, as well as other students impacted by the lockdown.

“All students, to some degree, have been affected by COVID and the interruption to traditional learning,” LCSD Superintendent David Martin said. “Those younger elementary students have been one of our main focuses due to the foundational nature of their curriculum.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our teachers and staff have adjusted and adapted to make our classroom time and learning as efficient as possible. They took these circumstances and streamlined their curriculum to best serve our students.

“Our schools and staff have done a great job of working to keep students in school as much and as safely as possible. Overall, they have done and continue to do an amazing job to service our students.”