New testing with Mississippi's 3rd grade reading gate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New testing with Mississippi's 3rd grade reading gate

literacy coaches are currently in 67 target schools across the state this year. Those are the schools with a high percentage of struggling readers.   Source: WLBT literacy coaches are currently in 67 target schools across the state this year. Those are the schools with a high percentage of struggling readers. Source: WLBT
The state literacy director says they'll test the kids a total of three times throughout the year.   Source: WLBT The state literacy director says they'll test the kids a total of three times throughout the year. Source: WLBT
The new law won't allow kids to pass 3rd grade if they can't read at or above the grade level.   Source: WLBT The new law won't allow kids to pass 3rd grade if they can't read at or above the grade level. Source: WLBT
Lawmakers believe a new program could limit the number of students falling behind and it provides a way to get them targeted for help early.   Source: WLBT Lawmakers believe a new program could limit the number of students falling behind and it provides a way to get them targeted for help early. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

No more fun and games. Kindergarten through third grade students will have to pass a fundamental test in order to advance. Lawmakers believe a new program could limit the number of students falling behind and it provides a way to get them targeted for help early.

Kristen Wells is a regional literacy coordinator. Her job and others were born out of legislation passed in 2013. It's come to be known as the 3rd grade reading gate. Wells says that year is targeted for a reason.

"For kindergarten through 3rd grade, we're teaching them how to read," Wells said. "And really in 3rd grade that's that transitional year where you transition to now you're not really learning how to read but you are more or less reading to learn."

The new law won't allow kids to pass 3rd grade if they can't read at or above the grade level. Schools won't wait till that year to test. The state literacy director says they'll test the kids a total of three times throughout the year.

"Our students are actually going through screening now," explained Dr. Kymyona Burk. "All kindergarten through 3rd grade students. We'll identify any areas of weakness or any reading deficiencies that those students may have."

Literacy coaches are currently in 67 target schools across the state this year. Those are the schools with a high percentage of struggling readers. But the work begins with teachers.

"Our coaches do not serve as interventionists," Burk said. "The role of the interventionist, is to provide that one-on-one remediation with students. Our coaches we look at it as actually having a broader impact. Our coaches are working with teachers."

Kristen Wells is passionate about the work she's doing here. She finds the teachers welcoming new ideas for lesson plans and reading classes.

"We are making stronger readers to become stronger leaders," WellS described. "Reading is fundamental and they need it."

Teachers in schools without those coaches have still received special training for reading instruction.

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