Mississippi students used to rank dead last in learning, writes Phil Bryant, the former governor of the state, on Real Clear Education. Not any more. “Mississippi fourth-graders, when adjusted for demographics, are ranked as the nation’s top performers in reading and second in math,” according to the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Bryant credits legislation passed in 2013 that included “school choice, early childhood education, scholarships for dyslexic students, teacher-education reform — and a requirement that third graders demonstrate reading proficiency to be promoted.
The “third-grade reading gate” was controversial, writes Bryant, who now advises the America First Policy Institute. Education experts claimed held-back students would be discouraged and push up the dropout rate.
Instead, graduation rates are now about 10 percent higher than the national average, despite the state’s high poverty rate. Mississippi hired regional coordinators and school-based literacy coaches in the lowest-performing schools, writes Bryant. “A Literacy Coaching Handbook was developed for coaches, K–3 teachers, administrators, and university faculty teaching early literacy,” so everyone understood language structure and how to improve instruction.
The results are “dazzling,” writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He visited a second-grade class in Jackson, where nearly all students come from low-income, black families.
Legislation and Reading: the Wisconsin Experience 2004 –
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?