Education

See how Coast schools scored on the 2018-19 kindergarten and pre-K readiness tests

Pre-K instruction relies on state and federal funding

Moss Point School District superintendent Shannon Vincent talks in 2017 about the importance of funding to get more children into pre-k programs. Those programs will help children throughout their education career.
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Moss Point School District superintendent Shannon Vincent talks in 2017 about the importance of funding to get more children into pre-k programs. Those programs will help children throughout their education career.

A majority of Mississippi kindergartners are ready for first grade after making significant progress during the year, annual test results show, and the percentage of those who are not ready has remained flat for the past three years.

The state Department of Education on Thursday released results for pre-K and kindergarten testing in the 2018-19 school year.

“Mississippi kindergarten teachers are continuing to do an outstanding job helping students build the foundational literacy skills they need to be successful in their education,” state Superintendent Carey Wright said in a press release. “Reading instruction must remain a major focus through the 3rd grade so that all children complete elementary school with strong reading skills.”

For the past three years, only 36% of kindergartens met the state standard for reading skills when first tested in the fall, but the number has grown to 65% by the end of each spring.

“The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates 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,” the education department said.

“The exam produces reports for parents and teachers that detail each child’s early reading skills. Teacher reports also include diagnostic information and instructional plans for every student.”

Statewide, the number of school districts with students scoring in the highest category, called probable readers, has steadily risen from one district three years ago to six this year. The average score, out of 900, has remained flat at 710 for two years, rising to 711 this year.

For pre-K, the number of probable readers has risen from 58 in 2016-17 to 84 this year.

“Research consistently shows that high quality early childhood education is one of the most powerful ways to make a positive difference for children throughout their education and life,” Wright said.

Mississippi also has Early Learning Collaboratives in certain school districts that aim to improve early childhood education. A state law passed in 2013 requires MDE to set a minimum achievement score for the ELC schools to continue receiving funding, which is 498 out of 900. They’re funded in part by a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Statewide, 76.9% of ELC students met the end-of-year target score, compared to 69.4% of students in other public pre-K classrooms.

South Mississippi has one ELC in Picayune, which scored a 409 in the fall and 548 in the spring with 37 test-takers. The state average was 430 in the fall and 575 in the spring.

Scoring levels

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.

Kindergarten scores

The benchmark score is 530 for fall and 681 for spring. All Coast schools were below the benchmark for fall and above it for spring.

At the beginning of the year, Pass Christian had the highest score at 517 and Moss Point had the lowest at 454. At the end of the year, Stone County had the highest score at 767 and Picayune had the lowest at 684.

School DistrictAvg. Fall Score Avg. Spring ScoreNumber of test-takers
Bay St. Louis-Waveland502705141
Biloxi504717488
George County508714331
Gulfport482719534
Hancock County488707316
Harrison County4987301,083
Jackson County480729659
Long Beach487737230
Moss Point454713104
Ocean Springs516724410
Pascagoula493703495
Pass Christian517724147
Pearl River County505730214
Picayune508684250
Poplarville504726127
Stone County476767217

Pre-K test scores

The following scores reflect a variety of pre-K programs and class configurations, including Title I, self-contained special education, and other school district programs.

A score of 498 is the state benchmark, and it means at the end of pre-K students have mastered 70% of early literacy skills.

Biloxi Public School District had the highest pre-K score at 624. George County, Moss Point, Pascagoula, Pass Christian all scored above the benchmark.

School DistrictAvg. Fall ScoreAvg. Spring ScoreNumber of test-takers
Biloxi44762498
George County42857371
Hancock County40146431
Jackson County38846821
Moss Point38549920
Ocean Springs38043617
Pascagoula388568117
Pass Christian45453620
Stone County42244911
Mississippi4305752,056

Pearl River County and Poplarville have pre-K programs but their data was suppressed for having less than 10 test-takers, which could compromise student privacy.

View the full scores for kindergarten here and pre-K here.

Lauren Walck has been in journalism on the Gulf Coast for 10 years, and she’s the Sun Herald’s senior news editor and a regional growth specialist. She is a native of Mobile, Alabama, and an alumna of Louisiana State University.
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