Learning to read starts at home

Published 8:05 pm Thursday, June 14, 2018

Last week, the Mississippi Department of Education announced good news for the Vicksburg Warren School District with the release of third grade reading scores.

With one retest remaining, 95.68 percent of third graders have passed the test and the district is projecting that number will rise to 97 percent after the final retest.

Reading by third grade is fundamental to whether students will be able to succeed academically throughout their school career.

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According to the National School Board Association, “struggling readers rarely catch up with their peers academically and are four times more likely to drop out of high school.”

Being able to read determines how you are able to learn and it is not just how you do in English. If you can’t read, you cannot learn science or history or in many cases math because you can’t understand the directions or do word problems once they become part of the curriculum.

Learning to read can’t just start in the third grade though. That is the stopgap of when students need to be able to read, understand texts and interpret the information.

The process must start well before that in pre-K and kindergarten. VWSD has seen a massive increase in pre-K students in recent years and had 298 students enrolled this year, which will pay dividends down the road as students get an earlier start on learning. 

It cannot just be the school district’s responsibility to make sure students are learning to read though. Parents must be working with their children at home and making the ability to read a priority. Free time and entertainment can’t just be spent staring at tablet or phone screens or watching TV.

That is why the news announced by Michele Connelly at Tuesday’s Vicksburg Kiwanis Club meeting that Vicksburg and Warren County are very close to being certified an Excel by 5 community was so important.

The certification process is used to determine if a community is putting resources and programs in place to promote literacy for students entering kindergarten and make sure parents have all the resources needed to succeed.

Going through the Excel by 5 process has brought different parties together to make sure daycare teachers are getting the training they need, parents receive resources on how to parent and the entire community is rallying together to support children.

If you want to see graduation rates improve, the school district’s rating rise from a D and education locally take a big step forward, it must start from the beginning. Make sure children are learning to read and think critically about what they are reading by third grade.

  Brandon O’Connor is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at brandon.oconnor@vicksburgpost.com.