Choctaw County School District has been ranked tenth in the state in the Literacy Based Promotion program, commonly referred as the third-grade reading gate.
CCSD Assistant Superintendent, Glen Blaine, stated that several years ago, before the implementation of the reading gate, CCSD raised the promotion policy for first and second grade students to 80, which allowed them to find the students who were reading poorly before they reached the third grade. This has enabled CCSD to remain in the top 10 consistently on the state level.
Blaine stated that proficient reading skills are critical for a good education; in the early grades students learn to read so that in higher grades they can read to learn. He pointed out that history, science and even mathematics requires sound reading skills.
Students who do not pass the reading gate are not automatically held back; they have two more opportunities to test, the last being in the summer.
CCSD is working diligently to see that all students moving through the system have an excellent educational opportunity.
The Literacy Based Promotion Act was originally passed in 2013 with a goal of having students reading at grade level when they enter the fourth grade. The Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires third-graders to pass a reading assessment to move into the fourth grade, and in 2016 an amendment was added to take effect in the 2018-19 school year, making score expectations more rigorous. The amendment requires third-graders to score at level three or higher on the reading portion of the English Language Arts part of the test, which is part of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program.
The percentage of students at Mississippi school districts this past school year who met or exceeded the new, higher bar ranged from a low of 32.4 percent to a high of 94.1 percent.
According to materials from MDE, three out of four students met the higher bar for the third grade reading assessment on the first try. According to the department of education, the state has continued to work toward improving third-grade reading skills since the Literacy-Based Promotion Act was signed into law in 2013.
The law requires that a student who does not pass the test per the new requirements must stay in the third grade unless the student can demonstrate a lawful exemption, such as a disability, a language barrier such as for English learners, or students who have already been held back. Local school districts determine whether students who did not pass the test qualify for an exemption and therefore, promotion, to fourth grade.
Top 10 districts passing rates in the state for third grade gate:
Chickasaw County School District 94 %
Newton County School District 93 %
Madison County School District 92 %
New Albany Public Schools 89 %
Petal School District 89 %
Long Beach School District 89 %
Pearl Public School District 88 %
Clinton Public School District 88 %
Oxford School District 88 %
Choctaw County School District 88%