Task force examines early literacy instruction - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

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Task force examines early literacy instruction

Source: MDE Source: MDE
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi continues to rank last or near the bottom nationally for reading achievement, but a task force is looking into ways to get our schools on the right track.

The Barksdale Reading Institute did a statewide study from 2014-2015 that focused on early literacy instruction. The Governor then asked a task force to use that to create an action plan.

The next step for improving reading scores could be looking at the methods teachers are using for literacy instruction.

"Reading is actually a science," said Dr. Susan Lee, IHL Associate Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs. "And science improves daily and we know that. Looking at what we've done the last 10 years, has been good but there's been improvement in reading that we can implement now in the classrooms and then our colleges with our teacher candidates."

Much of the report deals with getting uniformed policies in place for the next generation of reading teachers. You can think of it as a continuation of the emphasis placed on the third grade reading gate. 

"The real work if you can think we can get it all done in third grade, no way," explained Madison County Associate Superintendent Charlotte Seals. "It really starts in kindergarten, for us. And again in the situations where we have pre-K, there as well."

Seals said teaching reading is a more complicated science than what you may realize.

"That teacher really has to almost become a Sherlock Holmes in terms of figuring out what is it going to take," noted Seals. "Where is that deficit for this child? Figuring it out. Then saying 'OK, what kind of strategies can I use with the child to make sure that he or she is successful'. That takes a lot of work."

The idea here is that our children can only be as successful as the instruction they're getting. So if the state uses new research to improve the way reading is taught, outcomes could improve.

"Bottom line is that we want students to improve the way they read," added Lee.

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