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MKAS2 Test to Determine Third Grade Promotion

Passed during the 2013 legislative session, the Literacy-Based Promotion Act places an emphasis on grade-level reading skills, particularly as students progress through grades K-3. Beginning this school year, a student scoring at the lowest achievement level in reading on the established state-wide assessment (MKAS2) for 3rd grade will not be promoted to 4th grade unless the student qualifies for a good cause exemption. The Mississippi K-3 Assessment Support System (MKAS2) is intended to be a system for universal screening, diagnostic, and summative assessment to help every child become proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade. This new initiative is another challenging component of evolving requirements for Mississippi School Districts. This is a new test for Mississippi students and has not been piloted in our State; the cut score for passing has not yet been determined.

Third grade students will begin taking the MKAS2 (a computer based reading assessment) on April 16th and 17th and will continue on Monday, April 20, and continue through April 23. Since this test is computer-based, the test requires additional time to complete since students must be rotated through computer labs. Cut scores for passing the test will be determined by the Mississippi Department of Education around May 15th. The MKAS2 will allow multiple retest options for students who did not pass the test on the first attempt and includes reports for the parent, teacher, school, and district. Students falling below the desired cut score will take the first retest May 18th – 22nd. Intense remediation will be provided to the students who do not pass the first MKAS2 and before the first retest. The second retest will be June 29th – August 7th. Students who do not pass after the second retest will not be promoted to 4th grade as described in the Literacy-Based Promotion Act.

Third graders’ reading skills have been closely monitored throughout the year, using assessments that have been designed to identify children’s reading deficiencies along a continuum of reading development. Students have received differentiated instruction and a variety of interventions to improve student learning. Grenada School District has been implementing the following strategies to prepare our third graders for the upcoming assessment:
1. GSD has implemented an extra 50-minute block of Guided Reading Time for 3rd grade students. Students have received intense remediation on deficient skills with their individual classroom teacher.

2. Extra personnel (retired teachers, AmeriCorps tutors, assistant teachers) have been placed in classrooms to assist teachers during reading classes. They have been working one-on-one with struggling students.

3. Before and after school tutoring has been implemented with AmeriCorps tutors concentrating on concepts in which the students are deficient.

4. A new computer lab has been added to the second and third grade side of Grenada Elementary School. These computers provide a total of over 90 computers for students to practice taking online assessments through the Renaissance STAR Reading Assessment and iReady (a computer based adaptive program). Both of these programs empower teachers with the data necessary for each to focus on what matters most—individualizing instruction to accelerate learning for all students.

5. Practice tests from MDE are being utilized in every third grade class to refine skills.

6. A “Reading Boot Camp” was held, directed by four consultants, that focused on deficient student skills. One hundred targeted students rotated through stations to provide intense remediation upon reading concepts.

Our teachers, administrators and staff have been working diligently to prepare our third graders for this testing gateway. As our students test on the MKAS2, GSD will provide continuous guidance and remediation using data and appropriate strategies to enable our third graders to progress to fourth grade.
photo of Dr. David Daigneault