Statewide Kindergarten Assessment Reveals Majority of Students Making Gains

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release: May 21, 2014 JACKSON, Miss. – The results of Mississippi’s first statewide assessment of learning in Kindergarten show that the majority of the state’s youngest students have made significant gains this academic year. More than 40,000 Kindergarteners from 144 districts took the STAR Early Literacy exam in the fall and spring of the 2014-15 school year. The state average score for the fall test was 501. The average score climbed to 680 after the spring test. “These scores show that teachers have been equipping children with the foundational reading skills that are needed to progress in school,” said Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer for the Mississippi Department of Education. “Schools and teachers have been effective at helping students who start school unprepared to exit Kindergarten with beginning reading skills.” Every district in the state showed progress among their Kindergarten classes, though student achievement varied. Statewide, 56% of students scored above 675, which categorizes them as transitional readers. Students scoring at this level are beginning to read unfamiliar words and easy reader material, but are not yet independent readers. Among the 44% of students who scored below 675, most scored near the cusp of the transitional reader category. “The scores from this assessment are not intended to be used for decisions about student promotion or retention,” Benton said. “Child development research tells us that all children learn at a different pace. Regardless of their score on this test, all children who complete Kindergarten need support throughout the summer to continue developing their reading skills.” District average scores ranged from 595 to 762. The Kosciusko...

School- and District-Level 3rd Grade Reading Test Results Available for Public Viewing

JACKSON, Miss. – School- and district-level passing rates for the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment are now available to the public. Passing rates can be found here. Passing rates by school and district are presented as percentages in order to protect student privacy. Students need to score at least 926 on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment, which was administered in public schools statewide in April. Statewide, an estimate of 85 percent of 3rd graders achieved a passing score on the first administration of this test. The score range for the test is 600 to 1,200. The average statewide score was 980. The breakdown of scores is as follows: Score Range Number of Students Percentage of Students <=699  – 0.00% 700-799 257 0.68% 800-899 2,903 7.67% 900-919  1,769 4.67% 920-925 683 1.81% 926-929 486 1.28% 930-949 3,540 9.36% 950-999 14,074 37.20% 1000-1099 13,691 36.19% >=1100 428 1.13%   Local school districts will determine which of their students who did not pass qualify for one of the good cause exemptions for promotion to 4th grade. The remaining students will be retested before a decision is made about their promotion or retention. Students who did not meet the passing score will be given two opportunities to retest. The first retest window is May 18-22, 2015. The second retest opportunity will take place between June 29 and August 7, 2015. Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires that a student scoring at the lowest achievement level on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment be retained in 3rd grade, unless the student meets the good cause exemptions specified in the law. This school year is the first year that a reading test...

Number of Literacy Coaches Surpasses State Goal

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education has surpassed the state’s goal to hire 75 literacy coaches, with 78 literacy staff recruited to support schools statewide. The Mississippi Board of Education is expected to approve contracts for the additional literacy coaches on Friday. With additional coaches, the MDE will increase the number of elementary schools served from 87 to 125. Literacy coaches work with schools’ K-3 teachers on best practices in reading instruction. They are assigned to schools with the lowest reading scores, based on recent data from statewide 3rd grade reading assessments. At Susie B. West Elementary School in the Natchez-Adams School District, literacy coach support helped the school increase its rating from an F to a C in one year. “Susie B. West Elementary School is a prime example of what happens when an entire school community dedicates itself to professional development and improving student outcomes,” said Dr. Kymyona Burk, state literacy director. Focus on literacy transforms Susie B. West Elementary School Literacy coaches are part of a statewide system of support for schools and teachers that was developed after the passage of the 2013 Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which focuses on grade-level reading from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. In addition to assigning literacy coaches to schools, the MDE is in the process of providing training on the essential elements of reading instruction to more than 10,400 Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers and elementary school principals across the state. “Reading instruction is a major focus of Kindergarten through 3rd grade so that students are equipped to become strong readers throughout their education,” Burk said. “Literacy coaches and the emphasis on professional...

Volunteers Help English Language Learners Excel

JACKSON, Miss. – After their retirement three years ago, Jimmy and Joan Barrentine started volunteering in the English Language Learner program at Northside Elementary School in Clinton. Video: The Barrentines help English Language Learners excel The school’s international students come from a diverse range of countries including India, Yemen, China, Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Japan and Mexico. Many of these students start school not knowing one word of English. The Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires English Language Learners who have received two years of instruction to pass the 3rd Grade Reading Assessment in order to be promoted to 4th grade. Northside Elementary serves more than 700 2nd and 3rd grade students. This spring, 98% of Northside’s 3rd graders passed the 3rd Grade Reading Assessment the first time. Thanks to the Barrentines, Northside’s English Language Learners performed even better – with 100% achieving a passing...

Nettleton Third-Graders Lead County in Reading Assessment

Courtesy of the Monroe County Journal: May 20, 2015 By Alice Ortiz NETTLETON – The Nettleton Primary School third grade scored 98 percent on the state reading test throughout initial reports, but a retest on Monday boosted the school to 100 percent. By the initial scores released a couple of weeks ago, only four other elementary schools in Northeast Mississippi had higher scores than Nettleton’s 98 percent score. Nettleton Superintendent of Education Michael Cates said he was very pleased with the results and felt they were definitely going in the right direction. According to Nettleton Primary School Principal David Tutor, who has been at the school for six years, he implemented Common Core standards in kindergarten and first grade in the 2011-2012 school year, and added second and third grade in the 2012-2013 school year. “We knew this was coming, and knew we had to be proactive,” Tutor said. “We can’t do as we’ve always done and expect results.” Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, Nettleton completely changed the way it taught and assessed students. Personnel designed and implemented standard-based grading where students are assessed based on mastery of standards as opposed to traditional subjective numeric grades. All of this information can be found on the school website. In the 2014-2015 school year, Nettleton purchased STAR 360 through Renaissance to use as a universal screener and progress monitoring tool. Students scoring below the 40 percent on the STAR were identified and pulled three times a week for reading instruction with the reading interventionist, Dawn Harrell. The students were also invited to attend afterschool tutoring one day a week. Those...

Local Districts See Reading Improvements

Courtesy of the Hattiesburg American: By Ellen Ciurczak May 21, 2015 Kindergarten sure has changed, and the release Thursday of the results of Mississippi’s first statewide assessment of learning in kindergarten proves that. “It used to be that kindergartners learned their colors, learned their name and took naps,” said Teresa Jenny, Lamar County School District’s federal programs director. “Those days are gone.” The results of the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment show the majority of the state’s youngest students made significant gains this academic year. More than 40,000 kindergartners from 144 districts took the STAR Early Literacy exam in the fall and again this spring. The average score for fall was 501. For spring, the average score climbed to 680. “These scores show that teachers have been equipping children with the foundational reading skills that are needed to progress in school,” said Kim Benton, chief academic officer for Mississippi Department of Education. “Schools and teachers have been effective at helping students who start school unprepared to exit kindergarten with beginning reading skills.” The idea behind the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment is to get kindergartners started with reading skills so they will be reading proficiently in third grade. Then they will be able to pass the third-grade reading assessment and move on to fourth grade. Jenny said Lamar County kindergartners were taught such skills as phonemic awareness and how to write a paragraph. “If you expose children to this, they can do it,” she said. Lamar County kindergartners scored 532 in fall 2014. That score improved to 697 in spring 2015. “Our kindergarten teachers have been working very hard in getting our kindergartners ready to...