The Moss Point School District is launching a new initiative that aims to get the community involved in encouraging students to read.
The "ALL IN to Reading" campaign will feature signs all over the city asking people "What are you reading?" The initiative is a spin-off of the "ALL IN" campaign new Superintendent Shannon Vincent launched at the beginning of the school year.
Community members will be encouraged to complete and post a laminated card on the signs and to change the card as often as needed to show students that adults in Moss Point are constantly reading.
"It is time to embrace all the stakeholders because literacy has to be a language that is spoken by everybody for all students to understand the relevance," curriculum coach Remona Hicks said in a press release. "(The students) are expected to do well and they are expected to read."
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School officials determined the new initiative was needed after examining district data and seeing reading levels were below where they should be.
School districts across Mississippi have spent the last year and more emphasizing reading skills, since the state Legislature enacted a "third-grade reading gate" requiring children to either pass a standardized test or receive a "good-cause exemption" to advance to fourth grade. Reading is especially important, educators say, because knowing how to read well is a prerequisite for success in every other school subject.
On last year's third-grade reading assessment, almost 19 percent of Moss Point third-graders failed both the initial test and two retest attempts, the highest fail rate on the Coast.
The campaign will roll out Thursday.
Each school in the district also will incorporate reading into its daily activities, and drop boxes will be distributed throughout the city for book donations.
"This is not an individual issue," Hicks said. "It will take the commitment of this community to carry out this campaign."