Thursday, May 28, 2015

As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5,600 third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way - The Hechinger Report

As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5,600 third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way - The Hechinger Report:

As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5,600 third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way

Will holding back thousands of third-graders boost student performance in Mississippi?



ROLLTON, Miss. — In the weeks leading up to Mississippi’s new third-grade literacy test this past April, Zanysha Amos, age 9, was a bundle of anxiety. She couldn’t eat; she couldn’t sleep. Ever-present worry furrowed her little brow.
Zanysha knew when she sat down in front of the computer screen to answer the 50 questions on the statewide test that she could be held back in third grade if her score wasn’t deemed adequate. The thought was too painful to bear: Another year in the same grade, a year older than everybody else, going over the same stuff for ten agonizing months?
Her mother said Zanysha also had a nagging question she needed answered: What was the point of the A’s and B’s she pushed herself to get on her third-grade report cards, of coming home every day after school and unfailingly diving into her homework, if a year’s worth of effort could be wiped away by an uninspired performance on a two-hour test?
“She told me, if she was studying and doing good work during the school year, then she shouldn’t have to pass a test to go to the next grade,” said her mother, Ztearreyo Amos, an assistant teacher at Zanysha’s school in this north central town just off U.S. Highway 82. Amos had a hard time arguing with her daughter’s logic.
Zanysha’s questions illustrate the worries expressed by many parents and educators in Mississippi since Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation two years ago that declared third-graders could not be promoted without passing a test to prove they were adequate readers. Is such a high stakes trial appropriate for eight and nine-year-olds, so tenderly lacking in emotional maturity? Aren’t they too young to confront two make-or-break hours on a single test that could keep them from moving up a grade with their classmates?
Bryant believes he is doing the children of Mississippi a favor. He reasons students have little chance of academic success if they can’t read by fourth As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5,600 third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way - The Hechinger Report:

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