Monday, May 11, 2015

Can Jackson third-graders read?

The results of the third-grade "reading gate" exams for the Jackson metro area public schools produced a predictable mix of results.  However, they give further insight into the poor performance at JPS elementary schools.  The test is used to assess a child's ability to read.  Proponents of the test argue that a child will fall further behind in school if he is unable to read by the end of the third grade.

Madison County led the way as only four percent of all the third-grade students failed the reading tests.  Clinton enjoyed a failure rate of only two percent but it is a much smaller school district.  However,  JPS and Canton Public Schools saw nearly a third of their third-grade students fail the test.

23 out of 36 JPS elementary schools saw 25% or more of their students flunk the test. What is even more troubling is that the three schools who enjoyed failure rates of less than 5% (and two had failure rates of 0)  were either magnet or Montessori schools.  George Elementary, the crown jewel of the regular public schools as it has an "A" rating, suffered a failure rate of 21%. Several schools are rated "C" yet approximately a third of their students failed the exam.  28% of all third grade students in Jackson Public Schools failed the reading test. 

The results are posted below.  Scores less than 5% were highlighted in bold while scores above 25% were highlighted in red. 

Clinton (A)
Northside: 2% (A)

Canton: 31% (D)
Canton: 38% (C)
Jimmie M. Goodloe: 22% (D)
Reuben B. Myers: 28% (C)

Pearl (B)
Northside: 10% (D, no waiver)

Hinds County: 15% (C)
Bolton-Edwards: 23% (C)
Gary Road: 14% (C,)
Raymond: 11% (C)
Utica: 17%  (C)

Madison County: 4%
Camden: 10% (C)
East Flora: 13% (C)
Highland: 7% (C)
Luther Branson: 3% (A)
Madison Avenue: 1% (A)
Madison Crossing: 2% (B)
Madison Station: 1% (A)
Mannsdale: 4% (A)

Rankin County: 8% (A)
Florence: 6% (A)
Flowood: 12% (B)
Highland Bluff: 10% (A)
McLaurin: 7% (B)
Northshore: 2% (A)
Northwest: 3% (B)
Oakdale: 8% (A)
Pelahatchie: 5% (C)
Pisgah: 14% (B)
Puckett: 11% (A)
Richland: 11% (B)
Stonebridge: 9% (C)

Jackson: 28% (D)
Baker: 32% (B)
Barr: 20% (B)
Bates: 26% (B)
Boyd: 33% (D)
Brown: 15% (D)
Casey: 2% (A) (Montessori)
Clausell: 33% (F)
Davis Magnet: 0 (A)
Dawson: 48% (C)
French: 32% (F)
Galloway: 26% (D)
George: 21% (A)
Green: 32% (D)
Isable: 29% (D)
John Hopkins: 30% (D)
Johnson: 26% (C)
Key: 14% (B)
Lake: 24% (C)
Lester: 23% (D)
Marshall: 35% (C)
McLeod: 23% (B)
McWillie: 0% (A) (Montessori)
North Jackson: 33% (C)
Oak Forest: 25% (C)
Pecan Park: 31% (C)
Poindexter: 30% (C)
Raines: 47% (F)
Smith: 24% (C)

Spann: 19% (C)
Sykes: 48% (C)
Timberlawn: 31% (C)
Van Winkle: 26% (C)
Walton: 18% (B)
Watkins: 34% (C)
Wilkins: 27% (D)
Woodville Heights: 40% (F)

Kingfish note: What does Kingfish think? Kingfish thinks it's much easier to fix these problems in third grade than later in life.  One year of frustration is easier on a child than 15 years of frustration in school because one never learned how to read.  There is no reason that one-third to one-half of the students at these schools can't read other than poor leadership.  The military has a saying: There are no bad soldiers, just bad leaders. 


Anonymous said...

The good news is that Holmes County students who failed will already know 41% of the students in next years 3rd grade.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up, Woodville Heights was one of the best public elementary schools in the state. Sad.

Anonymous said...

This is just sad. Totally the parents fault. Kids can learn to read in Sunday school. What the heck are these kids doing all day? All summer? They are too young to have jobs and I doubt are working on the family farm. Schools can't fix dumb parents who don't care if their kids learn to read. It ain't rock science.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see at what level of reading do the parents of Jackson student have. I bet most of these parents are not much over the third grade level. Would also be interesting to see the emphasis that these parents put on education -- Did they read to the child as a toddler? Did they buy books for their child? Do they encourage their children to read to them? Do they tell or encourage their to learn and make good grades in school?

This problem of poor reading skills goes back to no parental involvement in raising their child.

Anonymous said...

There is no better support for early childhood education than this sad data set. Children that can't read at 3rd grade couldn't read in the 1st and 2nd grade either. Their parents are failing them, no doubt, but those who just drop the bucket there add zero to the solution. This state will not change one iota until this changes. I applaud the effort to keep children where they belong before school totally passes them by, but that simply doesn't solve the problem. We need these children learning to read as early as possible to solve the problem.

Anonymous said...

Casey is not a Montessori school. It's an arts magnet.

Anonymous said...

"It ain't rock science."

Uh, Chester, I do believe the cliche you are reaching for is "rocket science".


Anonymous said...

2:31 A few years ago I was asked to evaluate a five-year-old because he was not able to put together two-word phrases, a skill usually picked up between 12 and 24 months.

The parents just stared blankly at me and didn't understand why they had to take him to the doctor. They understood him just fine when he grunted and pointed at what he wanted, and life was chugging along merrily in their little corner of the universe.

There really are two Americas.

Anonymous said...

What kills me is that the state of MS is building a civil rights museum at the cost of 130 million dollars in Jackson. This money would be better spent on teaching kids to read. It's the politicians failing the kids. The elected officials want dumb voters. Every state in the south has a civil rights museum. What a hugh waste. Just like Kemper power plant will be. Like I say elected officials want dumb voters.

Anonymous said...

What is a Montessori school?

Anonymous said...

Well, 3:28 -- it's rather ironic, then, that the legislators in the poorly performing districts seem to, by your logic, want smarter voters (want to spend a lot more on education.) And somehow, the districts with top performing districts are the ones that don't want to spend more on education and thus want dumber voters? Ironic, eh? I'm not sure why a Rankin county legislator would want dumb voters in Jackson.

Question; If I may.... said...

This country has spent untold millions of dollars on Head Start, which, I think, in Mississippi is called 'Friends of Children'. What, other that baby-sitting and feeding is going on at those places?

Anonymous said...

@3:28 here's your info:

Anonymous said...

US spent more on Headstart in Mississippi than was spend on WWII and still no can read.

Jump Start said...

Head Start, like state and local government offices, is simply an employment agency. Anybody want to run THOSE demographic numbers?

Anonymous said...

The posts rife with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are entertaining. Were your parents involved with your book-learnin'?

I'll Bee Hear All Weak said...

You have a mighty odd entertainment criterion. Set the bar low, often, do ya?

exjxnres said...

I would be curious to see how many of the parents of the children that cannot read by the end of the third grade, cannot read either.
It sure seems that many are having children for reasons that do not make common sense. Maybe to increase a check from the government?
And then, those are the ones that want the government to provide total guidance and education for those children.
What if we took the government out of this vicious circle and inserted church and local private on-hands support?
Personal responsibility for one's own actions comes to mind. What ever happened to that?
Most, if not all, of the children should have been reading by the first grade.
Were we just that smarter, or did our parents just care more when we grew up?

Anonymous said...

Here's a math problem:
If 100 is the average IQ and tests are geared to test the expected performance of the average 3rd grade student, what percentage of those tested will have IQs below 60?

Please people, the ability to learn is dependent on many factors including individual differing brain development rates. Some of these poor readers could be scoring well on math.

The ONLY value of these tests is to identify areas of weakness in the individual child so teachers and parents can help stimulate that child!

I can't tell a damn thing from these statistics without knowing something about those being tested and neither can any of you!

Anonymous said...

Well @ 7:14, the one damn thing I CAN tell from these statistics is that too many 3rd grade kids in MS aren't able to read at a 3rd grade level. This was not a test of how they compared to the average. This was a MINIMUM SKILLS test. When 25% of your students fall below the MINIMUM, something is wrong. Choosing to ignore that fact or to distract from it by suggesting that perhaps a large portion of those poor readers are somehow mathematical savants is absurd.

Anonymous said...

We must consider history and residential segregation in MS when looking at this situation. For generations, access to quality education was denied to poor and minority citizens of this state. For all of those on here who are curious about the parent reading level in these communities, think about when those parents and those grandparents went to schools that were purposely funded 1/3 to 1/2 as less than the white schools in these communities. Divestment in people is cyclical and grows geometrically. People don't simply just choose not to learn to read, there are real barriers (intellectually, educationally, socially, politically) at play when this happens.

While I agree that these schools are struggling to educate these children, we must see this in a broader social and political (and economic) context than just the local school and illiteracy of parents. When you have poor students coming from poor and segregated communities, the cost of educating them (fiscally and pedagogically) is sky high. Consider it the price of Jim Crow. Couple that with a political leadership that doubles down on the history of MS and depressed labor forces (Slavery, Sharecropping, convict leasing etc.) and we see a readily hesitant desire to fund any public education effort in many of these communities. The reality is, the history of this state belies that there is a perception (though the political leadership would never admit it, they just claim "small government conservatism") that public investment in (minority) people is not a good thing, but public investment in corporate elites and businesses is the way to go. If communities are struggling to educate their children, how is less investment in the enterprise going to actually solve that problem?

Also, we must see these challenges in these communities as challenges for us as a whole state. 41% literacy rate in Holmes County is not good for Mississippi. It is not a coincidence that the schools and communities struggling with this policy are also highly segregated racially and economically. The schools that did well in JPS had student populations that were less poor, though still very highly segregated racially. The schools around the sate that did well on this test also had less poverty in their schools. I wonder, is this really measuring educational and educator quality or just social-economic status?

Anonymous said...

I wish that someone could organize a summer reading program for the kids that failed this test.

I would absolutely volunteer my time to go and read to the kids that failed in my county. And I am sure there are other people who would do the same.

Or if someone could see if the schools could bus the kids to a library this summer for story time, or something? Anything to help.

This is a problem that could be easily fixed if people are willing to volunteer their time to help. I agree that the parents should be doing more, but some parents can't or won't.

Some parents are too busy working to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, so reading to their children isn't a big priority.

Anonymous said...

@10:07- Income is certainly a factor but look at Northeast MS schools- Itawamba, Tish, Booneville, are a few. Wouldn't exactly call any of those areas a bastion of wealth yet they know how to read.

And the even more ironic part of this is that our lowest performing schools in the state spend the most. They get more money- from feds and the state- and have nothing to show for it. Probably because they don't spend it appropriately, but that's another issue.

I would honestly like to know how much we need to spend in Jackson for kids to know how to read? Right now JPS spends around 10k a student (more than Rankin, Pearl, Madison, Clinton). What do they need? 15k? 20k? 30k?

Anonymous said...

"how is less investment in the enterprise going to actually solve that problem?"

1) MS is spending more on public education than at any time in the state's history.

2) Education as a category takes up the single largest percentage of the state's budget.

What is this "less investment" crapola you're trying to peddle here? We are very interested in seeing results of current spending before we even begin to contemplate increasing spending. So far, any reasonably intelligent taxpayer can see we're not getting our money's worth from the current system.

Anonymous said...

Jim Crow is expensive. What MS spends and has spent is the problem. MS ranks near to last in this area, regardless of how much of the state budget it takes up (which is debatable; the definitions of "education spending" and "State Budget" are very fluid).

Also, student achievement is not as succinct as "Seeing current results of spending". Student achievement is characterized by way more than just dollars spent in a school house, there are nuances in student brain development (undiagnosed medical, emotional, and intellectual challenges), student experiences, access to quality extra curricular and community supports and activities, cultural relevance of curriculum content, etc. To assume that spending a standard amount will ensure a standard level of student achievement is naïve and ill-informed.

The same people that are complaining about the expense of educating poor and racially segregated populations around the state are not as quick to work toward integrating (racially and economically) these struggling districts. There is poverty all over the state, but it is not nearly as concentrated as it is in the delta and urban regions. Tish County is not nearly as concentrated with poverty as Holmes county. It is the concentration of poverty (resulting from residential segregation by class and race) that drains communities of resources (Fiscal, human, political, and social).

The way to combat the concentration of poverty is to structure economically integrated school settings, like in places like Lamar county, on the coast, and in NE MS. Are we willing , as a state, to incentivize this type of community and economic development? The political and social will simply is not there.

Kingfish said...

I will cede your point for argument's sake. However, half or more of an entire grade being unable to read goes way past what you are asserting.

Heads need to roll.

Anonymous said...

"Some parents are too busy working to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, so reading to their children isn't a big priority."
May 12, 2015 at 10:15 AM

So, why did they HAVE children? In my world, you only have as many children as you are reasonably SURE you can SUCCESSFULLY raise.

We are childless, because it turns out we got the wrong degrees. Among our friends, most (people with degrees somewhat better than our own) can afford to raise ONE child. Those who ended up in lucrative lines of work generally can afford two. I don't know ANYBODY with more than three kids (except a couple of breeders who are the only children of multimillionaire parents).

And then, there are those who didn't start making enough money to raise children, until it was TOO LATE. People in my line of work become affluent in their fifties (if at all). Biologically, we'd be three decades too late to produce optimally viable offspring.

In any event, that's the picture among those who breed responsibly. Please forgive me if I have no sympathy for those who haphazardly drop babies with the expectation that "The Village" will raise them. If you can't feed your offspring AND raise them (which includes being sure they can read and do basic math), then you have no right to bring them into this world.

Anonymous said...

I don't get your point? What makes the >50% number "Way past" my argument? Who could you hire, or what qualities would an educator need, to get that number down in a district that is 1000% black And 100% poor (like Holmes County)?

Anonymous said...

10:07 "...we must see this in a broader social and political (and economic) context..." 12:12 "...are not as quick to work toward integrating..."

So, we need to break up the 'concentrated poverty' and mix it into more affluent areas.

Palm to forehead.

Anonymous said...

@12:36- Even if I agree with what you say- that doesn't help the issue at hand.

These kids are here, through no fault of their own.

We can ignore the problem and have the cycle of poverty continue to repeat itself generation to generation, or we can try to do what we can to help these innocent children see that they can have a better life than what they were born into.

Anonymous said...

@1:12 pm , It's not like economic integration isn't happening in the aforementioned areas of the state. Poor whites don't go to poor school districts (districts with over 80% poverty rates). But poor black students seem to go poor school districts all around Mississippi. You Post just proves my point, there is no political or social will to corporately address this issue. That seems to be the main reason why it persists.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:24

Maybe because it is becoming increasingly clear that our children aren't safe in said school districts. So we leave. Who wouldn't?

Anonymous said...

@4:04pm, How did the districts become "unsafe"? White flight (now middle class flight of all races) started the decline of the quality (and as you call it "safety") of these schools, not the other way around. Again, Jim Crow is expensive, not just fiscally, but socially, educationally, and politically.

dubya said...

I think each of you need to watch the documentary "Waiting for Superman". It focuses on Geoffrey Canada and the successes of charter schools in Harlem. The statistics in that documentary are staggering. One of the stats each of us should look at is: if a student is retained 2 years he/she will have an 80% chance of dropping out. Geoffrey's fix for this? Help kids advance 2 years before they get to kindergarten. All kids need to know letters, numbers, days, months in English as well as two additional languages Spanish and French.

Each of the pessimists in our midst has not thought about the pain and suffering that will happen when resources run dry in Jackson and dropouts pour into communities surrounding Jackson.

You want a real solution? Set up charter schools where teachers are paid by merit and the amount of bullshit they will have to face.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure what you mean by dropouts pouring into our communities. I don't believe dropouts could afford a house in my community.

We are starting to have a problem with dropouts who live in Jackson 'pouring into' our communities and stealing our stuff. I guess that's what you mean.

Anonymous said...

You can clearly see how useful those school grades are. Highland Elementary in Madison is a "C" school and only 7% fail while Canton is also a "C" school and 38% fail.

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