For the fourth consecutive year, Mississippi third-graders passed the reading test required to move on to the next grade at a record high rate, but changes to the law suggest those numbers may dip next year.

This year, 93.2 percent of students passed the Mississippi Assessment Program English Language Arts test on the first try — up 1.2 percent from 2017. The students who did not pass have two more chances over the summer before they are held back a year.

In 2013, the Mississippi Legislature passed the Literacy-Based Promotion Act — commonly referred to as the “third grade gate” — which requires all third-graders to pass a reading test to determine whether they’re ready to move up to the fourth grade.

Currently students are required to meet a level two out of five, but next year the Mississippi Department of Education will require students meet at least a level three to pass. State Superintendent Carey Wright has called level two a low bar in years past.

This year more than 60 districts had at least 95 percent of students pass the exam on the first attempt, meaning they scored a level two or higher. According to the Department of Education, preliminary data shows 73.8 percent of students earned a level three or higher.

To view results for each district, click here.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Skinner most recently served as deputy managing editor before assuming the role of managing editor. Kayleigh has a bachelor’s in journalism from the School of Journalism and New Media from the University of Mississippi. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.