Report says 1/3 of 8th graders in the Mid-South will not finish high school - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Report says 1/3 of 8th graders in the Mid-South will not finish high school

A new report says 1/3 of 8th graders in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas will not finish high school. The reason? Poor reading skills. Those 8th graders are now preparing for high school, but this new study suggests many of them won't leave high school with a diploma if educators and parents don't step in. School is out for students in Memphis and Shelby County, but for many kids the education continues this summer with private tutors. It's the kind of extra attention a Washington-based research group says more Mid-South middle schoolers need if they want to succeed in high school. A report by the Alliance for Excellent Education says 31 percent of 8th graders in Tennessee are at risk of not graduating, 30 percent in Arkansas, and 35 percent in Mississippi. "I think it's flawed. I think it's greatly flawed." Shelby County Superintendent Dr. Bobby Webb disagrees with the results of the study, saying there are numerous reasons why a student might not finish high school. He adds that language arts are a major focus in Shelby County. "As a matter of fact, our writing test this year in all levels that they are offered we had straight A's so we are doing the right kinds of things for students to be able to read and write on grade level." "The teachers do the best they can, but I think their hands are tied a lot of times." Marie Espino spent 15 years as a teacher in Memphis City Schools and now runs a Sylvan Learning Center. "I tend to see it more and more all the time where students come to us not just a year behind, but three or four years behind." Espino believes the solution to improving reading skills is simple. "I personally think they need to continue to teach reading even through high school for those who need the reading and that's easily identified."
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