BY MARY GARRISON
West Point School District is working to meet the continuing changes in state and federal educational testing standards, and WPSD Testing Director Kris Hollis is hoping to keep the community informed on those standards. Hollis appeared before the West Point Rotary Club Thursday at First United Methodist Church to update Rotarians on some of the most recent changes.
In particular, Hollis addressed a new initiative set to begin this school year designed to strengthen early literacy in Mississippi's youth. Hollis said third-graders statewide will participate in the Mississippi K-3 Assessment Support System (MKAS) Reading Gate, a mandatory assessment of students' literacy skills. Students who do not meet the determined percentage threshold â€” a number yet to be determined â€” of required reading ability will not be promoted to the fourth grade.
"This isn't just in our district or our region," Hollis said. "This is statewide. â€¦ For students who don't pass the initial assessment, we're required to provide remediation. â€¦ We have a certain retesting window. â€¦ (However) if a student doesn't meet that threshold after retesting and retesting and remediation, we have to retain them."
It's a potentially frustrating situation, according to WPSD Superintendent Burnell McDonald. Local educators are given a limited amount of information to work with, which he said is akin to "shooting in the dark." McDonald said the threshold for success would not be determined and conveyed in the first year until after the test was administered and results tabulated. The uncertainty, he said, made it difficult to prepare students.