MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi State Board of Education aims to increase student literacy by investing $3 million in summer reading grants. The funding stems from a greater initiative to combat low performance on state academic assessment tests.
The Bay-Waveland and Moss Point school districts are among 24 grant recipients across the state. Over the course of three years, the Bay-Waveland School District will receive roughly $124,000 from the grant. Moss Point will receive about $75,000.
The Moss Point School District’s summer reading program has benefitted from the additional funding.
“This is the first time we’ve done something on this magnitude,” said curriculum director David Graves.
“They’re enjoying coming. We have students where the parents want to take them on vacations and the students have not wanted to leave,” added Kim Alba, an instructional coach.
Educators are using interactive sessions to keep students motivated and to help them fight against the “summer slide”.
“It’s basically a phenomenon where students... they’re out from under instruction, and when we get them the first day, they kind of sometimes regress,” Graves explained.
The program hosts 70 students this year, more than ever before. Graves said the grant has allowed the school district to strengthen the way 3rd graders are taught.
"We look at specific skills that students need, and they come and get targeted intervention to support them in reading,” he said.
The Moss Point School District has had low pass rates on the state reading test in previous years.
In 2019, Mississippi raised the passing score for the state assessment test for reading from level 2 to 3 on a 5 tier scale. Moss Point says its scores have improved every year since 2015.
“For the score of 3, we’ve gone from 41 percent the first year we did the grant to this year currently. We have a 63 percent pass rate,” said Alba.
Moss Point School District aims to help 3rd graders meet state literacy requirements while also bringing students from kindergarten to 2nd grade up to speed.
“K-2 is where you learn to read, but there comes a point in education where you read to learn," said Graves. “In being proactive, hopefully, we will have students at a better level when they get to third grade.”