An alarming 65 percent of fourth-graders in public school were reading below proficiency in 2017. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical marker in a child’s educational development. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone. Children who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are more likely to struggle academically and eventually drop out of school. This has significant consequences not only for each of those children but also for their communities and our nation as a whole.
On a local level, not all children of Lee County are entering kindergarten ready for school or are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. In 2018, 50.9% of all third graders in the Tupelo Public School District and 46.7% in Lee County Schools scored proficient or advanced on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program. Additionally, in the fall of 2017, incoming Kindergartners in the Tupelo scored 503 and 502 in Lee County on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. The target score is 530. Based on extensive research, 85% of students scoring 530 or higher at the beginning of kindergarten are proficient in reading at the end of third grade.
The Campaign for Grade-level Reading is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged parents and communities can work to remove barriers in school readiness, student attendance, and summer learning opportunities in order for all the children in Lee County to be successful. Participation and support by the community as a whole is imperative in order to improve the quality of life for all who live here.