WINONA – Currently, 33 third graders at Winona Elementary School are awaiting the results of a re-test of Mississippi’s third grade reading assessment after falling short of the passing threshold earlier this spring.
According to the Mississippi Department of Education, 65.3 percent of Winona’s third graders passed the “Reading Gate” test, while 34.7 percent did not pass. The Mississippi Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA) was adopted by the Mississippi Legislature in 2013, and it mandates that all third graders pass a reading assessment to be promoted to fourth grade.
Third graders have three tries to pass the reading test before being required to repeat the grade, and those who did not pass the first assessment, took the test a second time last week. Results are expected in the coming days.
According to Dr. Teresa Jackson, superintendent of the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District, this year, the state upped the pass/fail threshold from Level 2 to a Level 3 out of five.
“We aren’t pleased with where we scored,” Jackson said. “We wanted to do better. We will keep working on it.”
Jackson said of the 33 students that did not pass the reading assessment, 12 of those qualify for good-cause exemptions, meaning they are already in the special education program, have already been retained to a grade once, or are having intense reading instruction.
Statewide, more than 25 percent of third graders did not reach the requirements to pass the annual reading assessment, compared to last year’s 6.8 percent. In Winona, only 7.5 percent of third graders fell short of the passing threshold after the first test.
Jackson said after the first scores were received, third grade teachers held a “little boot camp for three days” to prepare students for the re-test. However, the state only provided the district with a list of those who passed and failed. No other data, including actual number scores, were provided.
“We only got a pass or fail,” Jackson said. “They gave us nothing to work with. We are all accountable for the scores, but at least tell us what [the students’] areas of concern are.”
A third re-test will be held later in the summer, but Jackson said the district can’t require students to come in for tutoring in preparation of the test.
“We can’t require it, but we can offer some sort of tutoring to help them prepare,” Jackson said.
As the school district prepares for the new school year, Jackson said the district did not qualify for a literacy coach, however, the district was able to hire another assistant principal at Winona Elementary School, which will help get students where they need to be.
In surrounding districts, Carroll County posted a 50.9 percent passing rate, Attala County posed a 61.9 percent passing rate, Greenwood Public Schools posted a 49.6 percent passing rate, Grenada County posted a 85.2 percent passing rate, Holmes County posted a 50.9 percent passing rate, Kosciusko posted a 76 percent passing rate, Leflore County posted a 38.6 percent passing rate, and Webster County posted an 84.1 percent passing rate.