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Fighting for Mississippi’s Struggling 5-Year-Olds, One Student at a Time

When Antroine Anderson started kindergarten in this close-knit rural town last August, he knew just three words by sight. He mistook H for G, confused L and I and identified M as F.5

Accustomed to being called AJ by his family, Antroine didn’t recognize his name in print. His mother, Janice Barton, felt ashamed when she learned some of his peers were already writing their names — until she learned many others weren’t prepared for kindergarten either.

In Antroine’s school district, one out of every 10 students had to repeat kindergarten last year. Kindergarteners here scored an average of 461 on the state’s readiness exam in fall 2018, some 69 points below where Mississippi wants them to be.