Between now and April 23rd, Mississippi third-graders will have to answer 50 questions that could determine whether they read well enough to advance to the fourth grade. This is the first year of the test, which the Mississippi Association of Educators says is being implemented too quickly. Frank Yates is MAE executive director.
"We tried to get the Legislature to put it off for a year so that they would have the test this year, but not have it count. Normally, you do some kind of preliminary. So that's what we asked the Legislature to do this year and the House passed it, but the Senate didn't take it up. And that's what teachers felt was a better way to implement it, so the implementation of it has gone too fast," said Yates.
Cytha Guynes is principal of Quitman County Elementary school in the Mississippi Delta. She says another problem with the test is that it only measures end-of-year aptitude. Guynes would rather see students tested on progress across the whole year.
"I think something that most educators get behind is growth and the idea that students should show that in a year they are growing and that their brains and their knowledge are growing. I've always been attracted to models that do like a beginning of the year pre-test and an end of the year post-test to show, you know, how much the student has gained in a year. We definitely want to be more growth-minded for our students, because we know that's what's best for the students," said Guynes.
Students who fail the test will have two opportunities to re-take it.