The Hechinger Report

This Mississippi district says these four strategies are helping their struggling readers

Editor’s note: This story led off this week’s Mississippi Learning newsletter, which is delivered free to subscribers’ inboxes with trends and top stories about education in Mississippi. Subscribe today!

Mississippi has long struggled to improve reading scores. From 1992 until 2007, the state’s average score for fourth-graders remained below the “basic” level of achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Student performance on state tests has been poor in recent years as well, with only a little more than half of students in some grade levels scoring proficient.  These scores, in part, are what prompted legislators to pass the Literacy-Based Promotion Act in 2013, which requires most students to pass a reading assessment before moving on to fourth grade. Since rolling out programs required under the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, the state has seen some reading scores improve, including those on the exam students must pass to graduate to fourth grade.

The Alcorn School District in north Mississippi, which has been prioritizing literacy in the youngest grades for the past few years, is among several districts examining what initiatives have most helped improve literacy scores. Officials at Alcorn say they are seeing progress, which is reflected in the test scores: During the 2016-17 school year, about 44 percent of third grade students scored proficient on the state reading assessment, up from around 36 percent during the 2014-15 school year.  What has the district done to boost scores? Here are four actions district officials say are key:

This story about struggling readers was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.