A new Mississippi law could affect your child during the 2014-2015 school year.
The third grade literacy promotion act's purpose is to ensure that every student in the state can read by the third grade or he or she will be retained.
Many students by the third grade can learn to read, but are they 'reading to learn'?
That's the goal of this new law.
The Jackson Public School district wants to make sure every student passes, so it has implemented some initiatives.
"Spend some time reading with your child," said Dr. Cedrick Gray, Superintendent for Jackson Public Schools. "Most importantly it's going to affect students before they get to 3rd grade because I think that if we wait until they arrive in 3rd grade then we're going to be at or behind the point we want to be."
The district has teamed up with parents and local organizations like Parents for Public Schools to ensure that every kid in the district passes a state wide test, or risk not moving forward to the 4th grade.
"There's a lot of research that says what happens if a child is not reading by 3rd grade proficiently that it increases the chances that they'll drop out," said Thea Faulkner, program manager for Parents for Public Schools.
The goal of this act is to get every student proficient or above.
Last year's numbers have some JPS administrators a bit concerned.
"Forty-one and 4/10 percent of our children scored below proficiency," said Faulkner. "That is a lot so if the law has been in effect last year, without the good cause exemptions 41 percent of our children would have been retained. That 3rd grade time is when children are shifting from learning how to reading to reading to learn, there's a lot of research that says what happens if a child is not reading by 3rd grade proficiently that it increases the chances that they'll drop out."
However, not every school in the district performed low.
There were many that scored well, but Dr. Gray says they need to get every school in Jackson performing well.
Other than getting the word out to parents, the district has created tool kits with Alignment Jackson, outlining ways you can help your child prepare for the testing and get them reading on grade level.
"We created a committee around this particular literacy act and that committee formed and created a tool kit for providers to use," Dr. Gray explained.
And over 100 teacher-volunteers are also spending their summer tutoring kids in reading, but officials say it starts with creating that reading culture in the home.
"Keep books in the cars because we're in the cars so much," said Faulkner. "Keep books in the car, let the child read while you're in the car, let the child see you reading, read stop signs, read signs, recipes, whatever."
It's also important to build a great relationship with your child's teacher.
"Maintain contact with the teacher and the support staff at the school, know exactly what the child's deficiencies are and take advantage of the resources JPS is providing," said Faulkner.
You can pick up an Alignment Jackson tool kit online, at the district's headquarters or at your child's school.
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