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Mississippi’s third grade reading test scores are nearly to pre-pandemic levels

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 8:47 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s third graders are signaling that students may be bouncing back from the pandemic more than some had expected.

The numbers tell this story. Let’s start with 2019, before COVID was a thing. 74.5 percent of Mississippi third graders got a passing grade on the reading gate test on their first attempt.

The test wasn’t given in 2020, and in 2021 it was given, but the scores weren’t a determining factor in whether they’d move on to 4th grade.

Now, to 2022.

“I think that this time around, it really gives us a really good indicator because now it’s really apples to apples,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Now, it’s a requirement as accountability is in place. And now we have a roll measure from 19 to 22.”

State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright proudly notes that 73.9 percent passed on the first attempt this year.

“It was almost smack dab the same,” noted Wright. “And so that was huge, huge, huge for us. And I think that that’s letting us know that our teachers are out there and have continued to be doing exactly what we want them to be doing. And for us to come in 2019 with these results from 2019 to 2022.”

Mississippi Association of Educators’ President Erica Jones knows firsthand how in-person learning impacts those skills.

“As a second-grade teacher, nothing replaces being able to look, listen and learn to a student read,” said Jones speaking of her former time as an educator in the classroom. “You can try it over the computer, you will have results with that. But nothing is more successful than having a teacher right by your five guiding you through successful reading patterns.”

And remember what school has looked like for students and teachers recently.

“Many of these third graders have not had what we would consider a normal year of school since they were in first grade,” added Jones. “So, just to see these numbers really shows that our educators really pooled in and work together hard to get these results.”

Not only that, the passing grade was raised in 2019.

“So, that’s the benchmark that we’ve kept,” said Dr. Wright. “So, we’re feeling really, really good to realize that we’ve gone through two years of COVID, and our little ones are coming out on the other end, I mean, that’s a strong measure.”

There are two retest opportunities for those students who didn’t hit the benchmark on the first try.

To see the district- and school-level initial pass rate report for 2021-22, go to mdek12.org/OPR/Reporting/Assessment/2021-22.

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