GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Third grade is where the rubber meets the road in education.
“For us it’s hard because we send our third graders to fourth grade and they’re doing what they’re supposed to, but when we get them, they’re still second-grade babies,” said Bayou View Elementary third-grade teacher April Hoyt. “And so, it takes a long time to get them into that mindset that we need them to be at for that big test.
That big test is the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program that includes the required English and math standardized tests taken by students from third grade up through high school.
Bayou View Elementary in Gulfport shined in the spotlight as the No. 1 individual school in the state for students performing at advanced levels in both English and math.
In the ELA assessment, 41% of BVE students tested at an advanced level, the highest in the state, and in the math assessment report, the school had the most students in the state performing at an advanced level with 61%.
“Our teachers and our parents and our students do a fabulous job at building the bridge between second and third grade, and our teachers do a great job gearing them up to be ready to pass the gateway,” said vice principal Heather Chesman.
Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Ellet taught third grade last year, but the collaboration continues to make a smooth transition.
“It takes a lot of work,” she said. “It takes getting to know your children, building relationships, being flexible. When we put a plan in motion, sometimes we have to change that plan.”
Third grade teacher Meredith Billings agreed.
“It takes a lot of collaboration between our teams,” she said. “We work together to plan, and we set really high expectations for our kids, and we let them know that we are here for them, that we love them and that we are proud of them no matter what.”
With success there is planning, and then there is attitude.
“It’s all in the mindset,” said principal Tess Lawrence. “We teach as if we’re No. 1 and that’s what we expect. Our students follow suit very quickly and they share our expectations.”