WDAM: HPSD honored as Pacesetter for Grade-Level Reading Campaign

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public School District is being recognized as a Pacesetter by the Grade-Level Reading Campaign for the strides it’s taken to improve school attendance. The district is one of 16 nationwide to receive this honor.

“There are over 300 communities in the nation and every year we go through a process to share some key wins that we’ve been having," said United Way Community Impact Director Kari Lynn Bessing. "Hattiesburg Public Schools actually reduced it’s chronic absence rate by 271 students over one year.”

The overall goal of the collaboration is to increase the number of children reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade. The Attendance Awareness campaign was developed by the Southeast MS Grade-Level Reading campaign, led by the United Way of Southeast Mississippi to educate parents and the public about how chronic absenteeism affects that goal.

“We are thankful for the support that United Way has provided to Hattiesburg Public School District," HPSD Superintendent Robert Williams said in a statement. "As we continue to provide resources to produce better readers, our attendance rate will continue to improve along with our reading proficiency.”

The Southeast Mississippi Grade-Level Reading campaign is made up of 23 people representing Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry counties.

“We all work together to better the successes and provide more and more resources to the students participating in those school districts," Bessing said. "Hattiesburg in particular has been doing a lot of work on attendance. A lot of it is led by the superintendent, principals, assistant principals and teachers themselves to make sure their students are in school and are finding out why they aren’t there. They’re just really encouraging it to be a really true and safe place to be.”

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