Education

Statewide, Coast Pre-K readiness on the rise

South Mississippi pre-kindergarten students outpace their counterparts across the state in large measure, according to a recent report from the Mississippi Department of Education.

On Thursday, MDE released results of kindergarten assessment tests that show the impact of pre-K instruction and readiness in the state and on the Coast.

Overall, students surpassed the state’s target assessment score this fall, a sign that students who attended public or private pre-K programs “were more likely to start school prepared to learn than students who did not,” MDE said.

MDE’s “Kindergarten Readiness Assessment” seeks to provide an understanding of what children know and are able to do upon entering kindergarten, allowing education officials to then improve the quality of classroom instruction for students based on each student’s individual strengths and weaknesses.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, the “Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013,” was signed into law in 2013. It’s the first time the state has allocated funding for pre-K education.

Students are expected to earn a 530 or above at the beginning of kindergarten, which signifies mastery of state standards.

South Mississippi

MDE tracked average pre-K readiness assessment score averages twice during the 2014-15 school year, once in the fall and once in the spring. They did the same for fall of 2016, but an analysis of fall numbers alone does not provide an understanding of district growth. Rather, it shows how prepared students are for school when they enter kindergarten.

Unsurprisingly, all South Mississippi district scores increased from the fall to the spring.

The state average for fall of the 2014-2015 school year was 501, compared to 680 at the end of the school year.

Notable standouts included:

▪ Fourteen school district score averages were considered to be “transitional readers” which designates mastery of alphabet skills and letter-sound relationships.

▪ No school district made the “probable reader” classification, the highest state designation.

▪ Stone County kindergarten students had the highest overall score of all South Mississippi school districts with a final average of 739. The district’s scores from fall to spring increased by 238 points, the most of all districts.

▪ The Pascagoula - Gautier School District and Bay St. Louis - Waveland School Districts’ were closely behind with increases of 236 and 230 points respectively.

▪ Just one school district fell below the state average, even though it showed improvement through the school year. The Moss Point School District had a score of 484 to start the year, and ended with an average score of 645. The district improved by an average of 161 points.

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

Score classifications

Early Emergent Reader (300 – 487): Student is beginning to understand that printed text has meaning. The student is 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.

Late Emergent Reader (488 – 674): 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.

Transitional Reader (675 – 774) Student has mastered alphabet skills and letter-sound relationships. The student can identify many beginning and ending consonant sounds and long and short vowel sounds, and is probably able to blend sounds and word parts to read simple words. The student is also likely using a variety of strategies to figure out words, such as pictures, story patterns, and phonics.

Probable Reader (775 – 900) Student is becoming proficient at recognizing many words, both in and out of context. The student spends less time identifying and sounding out words, and more time understanding what was read. Probable readers can blend sounds and word parts to read words and sentences more quickly, smoothly, and independently than students in the other stages of development.

Average statewide scores for the past two years are as follows:

Prior Enrollment

Fall 2015 Average Score

Fall 2015 Student Count

Fall 2016 Average Score

Fall 2016 Student Count

Pre-K Public

529.5

6,260

537.4

5,924

Pre-K Private

545.6

4,221

541.7

4,083

Licensed childcare center

521.8

4,739

513.2

4,407

Family care

494.3

852

483.2

1,019

Head Start

478.6

10,874

475.0

9,407

Home

482.7

9,138

473.9

7,822

Repeater

-

-

554.6

1,920

No data entered

520.1

995

494.0

2,028

Grand Total

502.8

37,079

502.3

36,610

MDE tracked average pre-K readiness assessment score averages twice during the 2014-15 school year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The increase in scores is represented in the “score gain” column.

School District

Fall 2014

Spring 2015

Year-end Score Gain

Bay St. Louis - Waveland

499

729

230

Biloxi

483

695

212

George County

498

689

190

Gulfport

496

680

184

Hancock County

528

703

175

Harrison County

512

711

198

Jackson County

515

727

212

Long Beach

535

713

178

Moss Point

484

645

161

Ocean Springs

511

732

222

Pascagoula

483

718

236

Pass Christian

520

709

189

Pearl River

505

714

209

Picayune

488

689

201

Stone County

501

739

238

STATE of MISSISSIPPI

501

680

179

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