Students at Philadelphia Elementary School

Kindergarteners in every district in Mississippi improved on a literacy test during the most recent school year, the Mississippi Department of Education announced Tuesday.

The state average on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment rose from 504 in the fall to 710 in the spring, on par with last year’s scores. In the 2016-17 school year, the student average went from 502 to 710 in the spring.

The test measures students’ ability to recognize letters and match them to sounds, as well as their ability to understand print from left to right.

On the district level, averages ranged from 626 to 794 in the spring. The target score for the end of the year was a score at or above 681, and this year 123 school districts met the goal according to MDE. This means students cannot read independently, but are beginning to read new words and reading material.

In a statement, state superintendent Carey Wright said the results validate the work of kindergarten teachers across the state.

“Reading instruction must remain a major focus through the 3rd grade and beyond so that all children develop strong reading skills,” Wright said. “Reading is the gateway to learning.”

Pre-kindergarteners in the state’s early learning collaboratives were also tested — these are operated by local communities which receive funding to establish and support quality early childhood education and development services.

Children in these collaboratives averaged a score of 573, higher than the target end of year score of 498.

Full results are available 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. 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.