Early Reading Success—What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Thrive

As parents, we all want what is best for our children. Whether it is getting them involved in sports or community activities, or just making sure they brush their teeth, we strive to put our children on the path to success. One of the most important ways parents can support their children is by helping them to build literacy skills early in life. Learning to read is one of the most important phases in a child’s education. The ability to read is a significant predictor of success in school and in life. That is why Mississippi adopted the Literacy-Based Promotion Act to provide strong support in the early grades for young students and their families. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, 3rd grade students must score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) English Language Arts test to qualify for promotion to 4th grade – a higher benchmark than in previous years. Parent involvement is also critical to students’ success. There are many ways that parents can help their children build and strengthen their reading skills. Here are a few suggestions: Read with your child at least 20 minutes each day. Consistent practice goes a long way! Talk about letters and sounds. Help your child learn the names of the letters and the sounds the letters make. Sing rhyming songs, read rhyming books, and say tongue twisters with your child. This helps them learn new sounds in words. Talk to your child. Use trips to the grocery store, dinnertime chats, and driving in the car as a time to introduce...

Kindergarteners, Pre-K Students Make Significant Gains on Statewide Assessment

JACKSON, Miss. – The results of Mississippi’s statewide assessment of learning in pre-K and kindergarten show that the majority of the state’s youngest students have made significant gains during the academic year. More than 36,000 kindergarteners took the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in the fall and spring of the 2017-18 school year. The state average score for the fall test was 504. The average score climbed to 710 on the spring test. “These results validate the hard work of kindergarten teachers across the state who have successfully helped students build their foundational literacy skills,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Reading instruction must remain a major focus through the 3rd grade and beyond so that all children develop strong reading skills. Reading is the gateway to learning.” Every district in the state showed progress among their kindergarten classes, though student achievement varied. District average scores ranged from 626 to 794. The target end-of-year score for kindergarten is 681, and 123 school districts met or exceeded this target score. This score categorizes students as transitional readers. Students scoring at this level are beginning to read unfamiliar words and easy reader material but are not yet independent readers. Progress in kindergarten remained steady from 2016-17 to 2017-18, with, 65 percent of kindergarteners scoring at or above 681 both years. At the end of the 2015-16 school year, 63 percent met the target score, up from 54 percent in 2014-15. The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right. The...

Tool Available to Help Children Find Great Books to Read this Summer

The Mississippi Department of Education, through the Office of Elementary Education and Reading, would like to encourage parents to use the “Find a Book, Mississippi” search tool to support summer reading. It is a fun and easy way to build custom reading lists based on students’ interests and the reading Lexile measure.  “Find a Book, Mississippi” is a free tool for parents and students and includes access to certificates for reaching a summer reading goal! Download the Find a Book, Mississippi flyer...

Summer Camp Boosts Reading Skills

  By Chris Kieffer Daily Journal TUPELO – Tupelo elementary school students who are struggling with reading skills are getting extra help this summer from a church-based program. This is the fourth year The Orchard has hosted SummerSALT, a summer-reading program that serves nearly 115 students, ranging from those who are entering kindergarten through those entering third grade. The acronym SALT is for studying and learning together. “We are being proactive,” said Merissa Rambo, missions director at The Orchard, noting that community supporters made the program possible. “We looked around, and we live in Mississippi, which ranks at the bottom of the country in literacy. We need to do something about it, so what can we do?” Students who need extra help in reading are referred to the free program by teachers, principals and others in the Tupelo School District, as well as by four local daycares. Each classroom has a certified teacher, assistant teacher, volunteer helper and no more than 12 students, ensuring small-group instruction. “I love it because it is a concentrated time to focus on reading skills,” said Carver Elementary first-grade teacher Anita McGraw, who is one of the program’s 10 teachers. “Everything is so well organized so when we get in there with the kids, we can focus on teaching them.” The program uses contributions from local businesses to hire the teachers and assistant teachers to work with the students. The plan is to counter the summer slide, the idea that students forget during the long summer break some of the skills they learned and then begin the new school year behind where they ended...