Number of MS literacy coaches surpasses state goal

Number of MS literacy coaches surpasses state goal

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Mississippi Department of Education

The Mississippi Department of Education has surpassed the state's goal to hire 75 literacy coaches, with 78 literacy staff recruited to support schools statewide. The Mississippi Board of Education is expected to approve contracts for the additional literacy coaches on Friday.

With additional coaches, the MDE will increase the number of elementary schools served from 87 to 125. Literacy coaches work with schools' K-3 teachers on best practices in reading instruction. They are assigned to schools with the lowest reading scores, based on recent data from statewide 3rd grade reading assessments.

At Susie B. West Elementary School in the Natchez-Adams School District, literacy coach support helped the school increase its rating from an F to a C in one year.

"Susie B. West Elementary School is a prime example of what happens when an entire school community dedicates itself to professional development and improving student outcomes," said Dr. Kymyona Burk, state literacy director.

Literacy coaches are part of a statewide system of support for schools and teachers that was developed after the passage of the 2013 Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which focuses on grade-level reading from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. In addition to assigning literacy coaches to schools, the MDE is in the process of providing training on the essential elements of reading instruction to more than 10,400 Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers and elementary school principals across the state.

"Reading instruction is a major focus of Kindergarten through 3rd grade so that students are equipped to become strong readers throughout their education," Burk said. "Literacy coaches and the emphasis on professional development for teachers and school leaders is strengthening classroom instruction statewide."

Mississippi's Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires 3rd grade students to demonstrate they read well enough to be promoted to 4th grade. Under the law, a student scoring at the lowest achievement level on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment will be retained in 3rd grade, unless the student meets the good cause exemptions for promotion as specified in the law.

The assessment is being administered in public schools statewide during the testing window that ends on April 23, 2015. Students who do not pass the test the first time will be given two opportunities to retest. The first retest window is May 18-22, 2015. The second retest opportunity will take place between June 29 and August 7, 2015.

View the story about how the focus on literacy transformed Susie B. West Elementary School here: