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Implementing the Mississippi Literacy-Based Promotion Act

Another new law enacted by the Mississippi Legislature is changing the GSD strategies for literacy emphasis.  In addition to implementation of Common Core, Mississippi Districts are now responsible for new guidelines for reading skills targeted in grades K-3.

Passed during the 2013 legislative session, the Literacy-Based Promotion Act places emphasis on grade-level reading skills for students, particularly as they progress through grades K-3. The Act states, “It is the intent of the Legislature, in establishing this act, to ensure that: each Kindergarten and First through Third Grade student’s progression is determined, in part, upon the student’s proficiency in reading…A public school student may not be assigned a grade level based solely on the student’s age or any other factors that constitute social promotion…if a student’s reading deficiency is not remedied by the end of the student’s Third Grade year…the student shall not be promoted to Fourth Grade.”

The Act focuses on prevention and intervention to help children develop the reading skills required for 4th grade.  To identify reading problems early, teachers will now assess the literacy skills of students in Kinder-garten through 3rd grade at the beginning and end of the school year.  Students who need help will be provided with intensive reading instruction and their families will be given tips to help at home.  Beginning this year, students who do not read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade or do not quality for a Good Cause Exemption will not be promoted to 4th grade.

The Mississippi K-3 Assessment Support System (MKAS2) is the assessment system that will be used to meet the requirements of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act. During the 2014-2015 school year, the statewide assessment that will be used for determining 3rd grade promo-tion is the Renaissance Learning 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment.  The cut scores for promotion to 4th grade have not been established at this time. This assessment data will be used to improve the quality of classroom instruction and determine interventions and services that students need.

The Literacy-Bases Promotion Act gives direction about the use of assessments in K-3 classrooms.  Assessments are used to identify students with reading deficiencies and to discover more detailed informa-tion about student’s needs.  This data will assist teachers to target reading instruction and intervention accordingly. An assessment will be administered in the first thirty days of school to provide data to determine if a student has a reading deficiency.

Assessments are designed to identify children who exhibit reading deficiencies by categorizing performance and will ensure that students receive differentiated instruction and intervention necessary to improve student learning.  The diagnostic assessments are designed to determine a student’s strengths and weaknesses along a continuum of reading development. The results from these assessments will be used to inform instruction and establish interventions needed to strategically meet students’ needs. Progress monitoring assessments will check to determine if the instruction and interventions are working together to adequately address student deficiencies.

As we implement the Literacy-based Promotion Act this school year, we are closely monitoring students reading levels. Using the I-Ready online reading diagnostic program, we have screened all K-3 students to identify which students are reading on appropriate grade level beginning in kindergarten.

Beginning this school year, students will be screened three times a year (Fall, Winter, and Spring) using I-Ready. We will continue to notify you in writing of your child’s progress after each administration of the assess-ment. Copies of the student’s score reports will be sent home with parents after each assessment. Strategies for help at home will also be made available to parents.

This new initiative will be another challenging component of new and evolving requirements for Mississippi School Districts.  Our teachers, administrators, and staff are planning and working diligently to implement changing requirements to maintain appropriate and timely education for our students.
photo of Dr. David Daigneault