Worried about kids and summer reading? Three Experts are here to help.

A few weeks ago, my 7-year-old son said to me matter-of-factly, “Mom, if you need me, I’ll just be in my closet.” I was thrilled. Because in his closet he has set up a little nest of sorts. A sleeping bag squished into a small space on the floor, two flashlights sitting on the shelf and, most exciting for me, a book or two tucked in there among his shoes. This is his hideaway reading spot, and since he’s a kid who is more interested in throwing a baseball in the front yard for hours than tucking in with a good story, it makes me think that perhaps this reading thing might catch on after all. That said, summer is here. And that little dark closet might be a tough sell for a boy who will be tempted by sprinklers and ballgames, swimming pools and bikes. Oh, I want summer to be filled with those things and more. But with school out of session, that means no silent reading in a classroom every day or book reports and library time built into the schedule. How do we encourage our kids to keep up with their reading over the summer when it’s not part of the curriculum? For some, that’s easy, and in fact they might have to be shooed out of the house and away from the books to get a little fresh air. But for others, it can be more of a challenge. Read on for a few tips and suggested reads from the people who get it: a children’s author, a middle school librarian and the book... read more

School- and District-Level 3rd Grade Reading Test Results Available for First Retest

JACKSON, Miss. – Cumulative 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. Statewide, an estimate of 91 percent of 3rd graders have achieved a passing score on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment. The passing rate incorporates the results of the first test administration in April and the first retest in May. The statewide passing rate for the April test was 85 percent. Students need to score at least 926 on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment to be eligible for promotion to the 4th grade. The number of students who have not passed the test is currently 3,415. These students will be given a second retest opportunity during the assessment window of June 29 through August 7, 2015. 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. 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 is required for 3rd graders to be promoted to 4th grade. For information about summer reading programs, contact local school districts. For more information about the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, visit Resources: LBPA Next Steps Parent Guide to Understanding 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment Score Report Strong Readers=Strong Leaders... read more

Early literacy key ingredient

By Sharon Kelly Youth and public services librarian Posted Jun. 2, 2015 at 5:13 PM Parenting – it’s said, “is the toughest job you will ever love!” From the moment children are born, the age old process of worrying begins. Are they eating enough? Are they getting enough sleep? Are they developing normally? Will they be ready for school? These are all valid and important concerns, some of them easier than others to overcome, but when it comes to early literacy and helping children get ready to read, we at the library are here to help. Last week, York Public Library hosted Shannon Schinagl, Maine State Library’s new Early Literacy Consultant, for an interactive presentation on early literacy. This workshop brought librarians, teachers and daycare providers together for an informative session about what all of us, including parents and caregivers, can do to help every child get ready to read. After all, the cornerstone to early literacy is what children learn about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. Schinagl broke this process down into six easy steps, with FUN as the main focus! Here is what she recommends. Step one: Print Motivation, which is best thought of as a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. This can be as simple as reading to your child, or having them tell you about a book you have read together. Make books part of play time – keep books in the toy box! Step two: Print Awareness, is knowing how a book works and how to follow the words on the page. Let your child turn the pages themselves when... read more

Mississippi: Set Expectations, Force Actions and Celebrate Reading Success

                      By Cari Miller If you knew teaching a child a basic skill would significantly improve his or her success in life, you would do everything in your power to make that happen, right? A few years ago, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that 88 percent of students who fail to graduate from high school were struggling readers in third grade. By simply teaching students to read by fourth grade, schools can help put students on a path to a lifetime of success. This is exactly what Mississippi is working toward. In 2013, the state established the Literacy-Based Promotion Act to make sure all students enter fourth grade with the foundational reading skills they will need to learn and succeed. The policy starts early. Beginning in kindergarten, screenings help identify students with potential reading difficulties. When at-risk students are identified, educators monitor progress and work with parents to create individual reading plans and find the right interventions to help students learn. Earlier this month Mississippi’s State Board approved the “cut score” on the state’s third grade reading assessment. Cut scores are selected points used to determine whether a particular test score is sufficient for some purpose; in this case, the score determines whether a third grader has sufficient reading skills to move on to fourth grade. On the first of three attempts to take the test, roughly, 85% of Mississippi third-grade students demonstrated the required reading skills for promotion to fourth grade. As a result, Mississippi schools have lots to celebrate. In the Pearl River County district, 99.5... read more

Power of Reading Brings Quitman County Families Together

In this Reading Today article, Quitman County School District educator Elisa Mayo describes how the “One District, One Book” initiative helped get more parents and children reading together. This community wide program is a model for districts to build participation in the community and in homes. Instead of only giving parents strategies for helping children, this program puts a book in their hands to read with their children. 

Elisa Mayo (, an International Literacy Association member since 2014, is a literacy advocate in her community and is employed with the Quitman School District in Mississippi. She is currently enrollment in the Master’s of Reading Literacy program at Belhaven University.

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MDE partners with Mississippi Library Commission and Miss Mississippi to Promote Summer Reading

May 28, 2015 MDE partners with Mississippi Library Commission and Miss Mississippi to Promote Summer Reading  JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education, in partnership with the Mississippi Library Commission, is working to promote summer reading to help students avoid the “summer slide.” “Teachers often talk about the “summer slide” that happens when children don’t keep up their reading habits over the summer,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “That is why it is so important for children to keep up the momentum over the summer to maintain and strengthen their reading skills. This is particularly important for children as they develop their reading skills in PreK through the 3rd grade.” Children who do not read over the summer lose up to three months of reading achievement. This causes teachers to spend valuable instructional time re-teaching material students have forgotten over the summer. Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray is also partnering with the MDE to promote summer reading. Murray is the spokesperson for the MDE’s literacy awareness campaign, Strong Readers=Strong Leaders. The Strong Readers=Strong Leaders campaign aims to promote literacy throughout a child’s education by equipping families, students and educators with resources to develop reading skills at school and at home. “Good reading skills are absolutely essential for every child’s success,” Murray said. “Without the foundation of literacy, I would never have achieved the Miss Mississippi crown, competed in the Miss America pageant or had the courage to sing on American Idol. I’m now in college and involved in encouraging all of Mississippi’s children to develop strong reading skills.” Murray joined Wright and Susan Cassagne, executive director... read more

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... read more

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... read more