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TUPELO • Tupelo and Lee County schools scored above the state average on the third grade reading assessment for the 2018-19 school year.

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA) requires third-graders to pass a reading assessment to be promoted to the fourth grade unless a student qualifies for a “good cause exemption,” according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

Exemptions apply to some students with disabilities, students learning English or students who have been previously retained.

85.6% of Mississippi third-graders passed the reading assessment after the final retest.

Meanwhile, 90.8% of third-graders in Tupelo schools and 85.9% of Lee County schools passed after the final retest – both above the state average.

The LBPA reading-level expectations were raised this year to “the highest reading standard ever required,” meaning third-graders had to score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) English Language Arts (ELA) assessment to pass.

In previous years, students only had to reach level 2, which is basic proficiency, to pass. Level 3, the new passing score, indicates a student is approaching grade-level expectations. Level 4 is proficient, meaning students have mastered grade-level reading standards and level 5 is advanced.

“Once the reading standard was increased, students proved they could meet, and exceed, the higher expectation,” state superintendent of education Dr. Carey Wright said. “In third grade, students begin to make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. They need strong reading skills to perform well in every subject and to progress throughout school.”

For third-graders in the Tupelo Public School District, 30.7% scored level 3, 41.7% scored level 4 and 8.4% score level 5 on the ELA test.

“We’re feeling really good,” TPSD superintendent Rob Picou said. “The numbers look strong. A lot of our teachers and students have invested a lot of time to get us where we are.”

For third-graders in the Lee County School District, 30.8% scored level 3, 38.4% scored level 4 and 8.4% scored level 5 on the ELA test.

“I was pleased with our scores,” incoming LCSD superintendent Coke Magee said. “There’s always room for improvement and I think we’ll continue to do everything we can to prepare our third-graders for that gate.”

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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