Union leads area on reading test

By DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,



The Mississippi Department of Education released the results of the fall Kindergarten Reading Assessment in December.

Union Elementary School kindergartners had the highest reading score in the county at 509. Fifty-nine UES students took the exam this fall.

Newton Elementary School kindergartners had a scale score average of 483 with 98 taking the exam.

Newton County Elementary School students had a scare score average of 473 with 132 students taking the exam.

UES improved on last fall’s average score when 20 students had a scale score average of 445. Newton County and Newton kindergartners did not take the fall assessment in 2016.

Students scoring in the 300-487 range are classified as early emergent readers meaning the student is beginning to understand that printed text has meaning. The student is also learning that reading involves printed words and sentences, and that print flows from left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page. The student is also beginning to identify colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.

Students scoring in the 488-674 range are classified as late emergent readers, meaning the student can identify most of the letters of the alphabet and can match most of the letters to their sounds. The student is also beginning to “read” picture books and familiar words around the home. Through repeated reading of favorite books with an adult, students at this stage are building their vocabularies, listening skills and understandings of print.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates early literacy skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right.            

Mississippi started testing incoming kindergarteners at the start of the school year in 2014. Though the test continues to show the majority of kindergarteners start school unprepared, students are showing incremental improvements. 

Statewide, the percentage of students scoring kindergarten-ready has increased from 34.6 percent in 2014 to 36.9 percent in 2017. Students scoring below the target score has dropped from 65.4 in 2014 to 63.1 in 2017.  

Roughly half of Mississippi school districts offered pre-K in 2016-17. 

Statewide, the average score on the fall 2017 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was 503. Only 20 of the state’s 144 school districts demonstrated an average score of 530 or above. Nine of those 20 districts have invested in pre-K through the Early Learning Collaborative program.

The assessment is given again to kindergartners in the spring.