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Initial VWSD 3rd grade reading scores look good

The Mississippi Department of Education released initial results from the third grade reading test this week and the Vicksburg Warren School District once again received a positive report.

Of the 603 third graders in VWSD, current numbers show that 95.68 percent passed the reading gate test. Of those students, 85.9 percent of the students passed on the first go around. That number increased to 95 percent following good cause exemptions, which includes special education students, being accounted for and the first retest.

The numbers will not be finalized until the end of June following the final retest for students, but district spokesperson Christi Kilroy said their current projection is that the passage rate will improve to 97 percent meaning less than 20 students throughout the district would have failed to pass the test.

Kilroy said the number of students who did not pass will be impacted by students whose parents decided not to retest them and hold them back and repeat third grade and by at least one student she knows of who failed the first time and then moved out of the district, but who still counts against VWSD.

“We have a whole group of students right now who are in what is called literacy camp,” Kilroy said. “It is a summer program where we have reading coaches working intensely with those students on reading. Many of those students from what I am told were close to passing.”

Last year following good cause exemptions and both retests, 99 percent of third graders throughout the Vicksburg Warren School District passed the reading test. In 2016, 96 percent passed and in 2015 86 percent passed.

“Every cohort of kids is different. Every cohort has different strengths, different challenges so we don’t expect it to be the exact same every year,” Kilroy said. “We want to keep it up there and we want to be competitive with the rest of the state and our kids are getting the best that they can. We are really proud that we are going to have these high numbers again.”

Statewide, 93.2 percent of third graders passed the reading test the first time, up from 92 percent in 2016 and 87 percent in 2015.

Individual school numbers following good cause exemptions and the first retest were not available, but Kilroy said of the eighth schools in the district with third grade classes five of them have no more outstanding retests. After the initial round of testing, Vicksburg and Warren Central intermediate schools had the lowest passage rates in the district at 77.7 percent and 76.5 percent respectively.

Both of those schools have been designated literacy support schools by MDE and Kilroy said they receive help from a literacy coach provided by the state.

“I am proud of the hard work of all our students, parents and teachers and the progress we have made in our reading scores. Each year we have a new group of students with their own unique strengths and challenges, and the success of all of our students is important to us. We will continue our rigorous work to be sure that our students pass this important assessment,” superintendent Chad Shealy said. “We aren’t at the finish line yet with the third grade reading gate assessment. We have students right now that are participating in Literacy Camp who will be able to take a retest in June. Once we have the final number, we will use the data to help each child and to make any adjustments for next year.”

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