The new third-grade reading gate has increased the emphasis on literacy instruction in lower grades.
Daily Journal education reporter Emma Kent (4:55) joins Derek and Brad on today’s episode to talk about what teachers are doing to meet that challenge.
The so-called “gate” is a reading test students must pass in third grade in order to advance to fourth grade. There are opportunities for students who don’t pass the test to retake it, and some of them qualify for good-cause exemptions. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the score students must reach in order to pass the test will be raised.
Emma notes that teachers now begin teaching reading skills from the time students enter school. They will use data to monitor the progress of their students, and those who are falling behind will get help from interventionists, who will work with them in small-group settings or even one-on-one.
Schools also are looking for new ways to reach out to parents and get them more involved in helping students learn to read. They are searching for ways to provide different lessons to students who start with different ability levels.
Also on today’s episode, Daily Journal Capitol Bureau chief Bobby Harrison (26:08) has the latest on the education funding debate.
Although the proposal to change the school funding formula died for the regular session, legislators could take up the issue soon in a special session. House Speaker Philip Gunn increased the likeliness of that happening when he also declined to pass a budget for K-12 education for the upcoming year.
The Legislature is currently in the process of passing appropriation bills, and the school funding bill usually starts in the House. Gunn said it makes sense to couple the funding bill with legislation to rewrite the formula and that both issues should be tackled together in a special session. Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Bryant has said he will not call a special session on the funding formula until lawmakers reach a consensus on the issue.
Meanwhile, photographer Lauren Wood (37:49) discusses her recent photo essay on Sweet Potato Sweets in Vardaman. All the treats are made with sweet potatoes brought in from a local farm. The potatoes are peeled, boiled, pureed and used in all the baked goods and products sold at the store.