A majority of Mississippi kindergartners are making steady gains towards becoming proficient readers. That’s according to the results of a new statewide assessment. The results are a dramatic improvement over how students performed last fall.
The kindergarten readiness assessment measures whether students understand the building blocks of literacy. When the test was administered to the state’s 40,000 kindergartners last fall, nearly two-thirds of them scored below the state’s benchmark of 530. Test scores range between 300 and 900 points.
But when the test was re-administered earlier this month, students showed marked improvement, raising the statewide average score to 680. Kim Benton is with the Mississippi Department of Education.
"We're really excited about the progress that's been made in the performance of the students in kindergarten," says Benton. "It demonstrates how hard our schools our teachers have been working to ensure that our children have that solid foundation that positions them for success in first grade."
Benton credits the increase to a lot of hard work by districts, and concentrating on those students who needed the most help. Michelle Nowell is the Principal of Kosciusko Lower Elementary. It's the school that saw the largest increase moving from a score of 445 to 762. She says the teachers in her school collaborated to make sure every child saw improvement.
"All nine of those teacher worked so closely together and they planned together every week," Nowell says. "That way if one teacher is really strong in math and one is really strong in language, the child in each of those classrooms gets the benefit of every teacher's strong points.
While education officials say they are pleased with the spring scores, they believe strong early education programs could boost the scores even higher.