Most Coast schools exceed state average on reading tests

Fourteen of South Mississippi's 16 school districts had more of their students than the state average pass the "third-grade reading gate" test.

The state Department of Education said Thursday 87 percent of the state's 39,000 third-graders passed the test that will determine if they can proceed to fourth grade. Those who did not pass will have two more chances to pass the test. Districts also can opt to promote to fourth grade students who do not pass for reasons such as being English-language learners or having a learning disability.

Last year, 85 percent of students passed on the first try. After the third re-test, 92 percent of students statewide had passed.

In South Mississippi, Bay-Waveland, Ocean Springs, Pearl River County and Poplarville schools had more than 95 percent of their students pass. The Education Department did not release exact percentages over 95 percent.

In Pass Christian, 95 percent of students passed. Stone County, Hancock County, Pascagoula-Gautier, Long Beach, Harrison County, Biloxi and Jackson County schools all had more than 90 percent of students pass.

Only Moss Point with 77 percent passing and Picayune schools with 85 percent scored below the state average of 87 percent.

This was the second year the test has been administered, since the state legislature passed the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, designed to ensure students were better prepared for high school, college and careers by making sure they could read early on.

Third grade is thought to be the year students go from learning to read and to needing to know how to read in order to learn.

Critics have said not enough resources were provided to schools to achieve the goal of better reading instruction.

Last month, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law requiring students to score at a higher level to reach fourth grade starting in 2019.

The Associated Press, contributed to this report.