Changes to Mississippi test gets praise from parents

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Changes are on the way in Mississippi education.

Now third graders must pass the gate reading test in order to move on to the fourth grade.

Once the school bell rings again, the real work starts and incoming third graders now have a lot on the line.

"The third grade Reading Gate Program was enacted several years ago. This school year is when tougher standards are going to come into that," Desoto County Superintendent Cory Uselton said.

Now students will have to pass the test in order to move ahead.

Some parents think that's a very important life lesson.

"You don't always get promoted in life. You don't always get that promotion, so this sets you up to learn that life lesson," parent Robin Warren said.

The changes to the state required reading test aren't new.

In spring 2016, the Mississippi legislature passed new standards.

Superintendent Uselton says some students would have been repeating the third grade if promotion relied on passing the exam last school year.

"This past year, statewide, 93 percent of students were able to be promoted from third grade via that test. But if those new standards had been in place, the State Department of Education said only 74 percent of students would have been promoted."

That means there's still work to be done.

"We want to make sure we can offer as much assistance as possible to kindergarten, first, second and third grade to make sure those students do well on that test," Superintendent Uselton said.

He wants incoming third graders to accept and step up to the challenge the changes will bring.

The students will get a few opportunities to pass that test. So if they don't succeed the first time, they can retake it twice.