Mississippi elementary schools accepting 'Next Level Up’ Challenge

The Mississippi Department of Education launched the challenge to highlight ways schools are preparing for the 3rd grade reading gate test.

Mississippi elementary schools accepting “Next Level Up Challenge”

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -There’s a new video challenge that’s being issued by the Department of Education. The goal is for schools to show off the ways they’re preparing for the big third grade reading gate test.

This chart shows the progress of the state’s third graders over the last three years, with the pass rate increasing and the fail rate decreasing.

Mississippi has shown progress each year since the third grade reading gate was implemented.
Mississippi has shown progress each year since the third grade reading gate was implemented. (Source: Mississippi Department of Education)

But there’s a new cut score that explains the purpose of the “level up” challenge. Students receive scores one to five on the reading test, and up until now, they’ve needed at least a two to pass and advance to the fourth grade. But this year, they’ll need a three.

Stonebridge Elementary in Brandon is working to keep that focus on accepting the challenge and not the mindset of stressing about a test.

“Sometimes with them knowing they have this big test," said third-grade teacher Kaiden Helmick. "They always talk about having this big test at the end of the year.”

The stakes are high. Students need to pass the test to be promoted to fourth grade.

“One of the things we’ve done with our students is just that open communication," explained Stonebridge Elementary Principal Angela Nichols. "You are working hard and this is just a time to shine. This is just a time to show your parents and teachers what you are capable of doing.”

They wanted to highlight that teamwork for their challenge video.

“When they got to watch it and see themselves, they were so excited," said Academic Interventionish Abby Troxler. "They’re realizing that we can make learning fun and it doesn’t have to be stressful all the time. They can see us teachers dancing and being silly too cause we want them to be sure that learning is fun.”

They’re incorporating things like online reading, small group work, individualized instruction and intervention work for those who need more help.

Third graders statewide will take that critical test in April with two retake opportunities if they don’t pass on the first try.

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