96 percent of Vicksburg Warren third-graders pass state’s reading test

Published 9:18 am Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Third-graders in the Vicksburg Warren School District pulled off an exceptional feat we discovered earlier this month when official reading test scores were passed out by the state.

After testing in April, things looked dire. Nearly 18 percent of the district’s third-grade students failed reading compared to nearly 15 percent statewide.

Many of our local third-graders turned their F in a reading test into a passing grade after getting extensive tutoring.

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“Our school district was at 18 percent (fail rate), and after the second retest we were at 5 percent (fail rate),” Superintendent Chad Shealy said. “I am very proud of our efforts to decrease the initial number of students that were slated to be retained.”

Then, after a third retest, even more students passed, bringing the rate up to 96 percent. That’s pretty amazing considering where the district started.

“At the beginning of the year we had 52 percent of our kids that were reading below that 40th percentile,” Shealy said. “Considering we started with 52 percent, I am incredibly proud of the work of the teachers.”

Third grade, the experts tell us, is important for reading. Children who are not reading on grade level then tend to do worse overall in school and are a higher risk for dropouts.

Legislators and Gov. Phil Bryant have said they prefer to hold back students who cannot read at a third-grade level and give them special attention. Some research disagrees with the approach, saying failing a grade leads to higher dropout rates. Regardless, about 6 percent of Warren County’s third-graders will be repeating the grade.

Shealy, though he sees progress, knows this is a major concern and hopes no children are retained next year.

“We have implemented intensive interventions and camps as a part of last year’s efforts,” he said. “Moving forward, we have challenged our elementary principals to create the innovative strategies throughout the school year for all kindergarten through third-grade classes to ensure literacy at all grade levels.”