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County kindergartners on track to meet third grade reading expectations

Kindergartners in Poplarville, Pearl River County and Picayune School Districts are on track to meet third grade reading expectations based on the 2018-2019 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment results.

The test is administered in the fall and spring to evaluate kindergarten readiness at the beginning of the school year and to evaluate whether students are on track to be proficient in reading at the end of third grade, according to the assessment results.

The results were published in July.

Fall 2018 scores

A scale score of 530 in the fall is the benchmark for readiness at the beginning of the year and indicates a 70 percent mastery of early literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills, according to the assessment. All three school districts had average scale scores below that number, according to the assessment results.

Nicholson Elementary had an average score of 469, Poplarville Lower Elementary had an average score of 504, Pearl River Central Elementary had an average score of 505, South Side Lower Elementary had an average score of 510, Roseland Park Elementary had an average score of 517 and West Side Elementary had an average score of 524, according to the results.

Spring 2019 scores

A scale score between 448 and 674 shows students can identify most of the alphabet letters and sounds, and are beginning to build vocabularies and listening skills, according to the assessment results. A scale score from 675 to 774 shows students have mastered alphabet skills, are probably able to read simple words and can likely use different strategies to figure out words, according to the assessment results.

The statewide scale score average was 711 for spring 2019, according to the assessment results.

Students with a spring scale score of 681 are on track to meet the reading expectations for the end of third grade, according to the assessment results.

All three districts had average scale scores above 681, but some of the individual elementary schools had scores below 681.

Nicholson Elementary had an average score of 666, giving it a score gain of 197 from the fall to spring assessment. Roseland Park Elementary had an average score of 667, giving it a score gain of 150. South Side Lower Elementary had an average score of 685, giving it a score gain of 175. West Side Elementary had an average score of 711, giving it a score gain of 187. Poplarville Lower had an average score of 726, giving it a score gain of 222. Pearl River Central Elementary had an average score of 730, giving it a score gain of 225.

Children in all of the Picayune School District elementary schools have made significant gains from the fall to spring test for the last three years, said Brent Harrell, Picayune School District assistant superintendent.

“We have very strong kindergarten teachers and we try to keep those student teacher ratios as low as possible,” Harrell said.

Harrell said the school district also serves a lot of preschool students in the early head start program, which improves students’ readiness when they begin kindergarten in the fall.

The test results help the district understand how children are doing with language development, which is critical for kindergarten, said Harrell.

Current kindergarten students are being individually screened before classes begin next week, said Harrell and will take the next fall readiness assessment in several weeks.

The Poplarville and Pearl River County School Districts were contacted for comment, but neither responded by press time.