Mississippi Literacy Program Helps Students Get Back on Track After Lost Time

Credit: United Way of Southeast Mississippi

United Way of Southeast Mississippi has adopted a program to help students grow their literacy skills after crucial time was spent outside of the classroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WDAM 7. The Mission Acceleration Program is providing students with the opportunity to get back on track academically as quickly as possible. The program has proven a success as students are developing their literacy skills by working with qualified tutors who focus on the essentials of literacy instruction. 

The Mission Acceleration Program was built to use evidence-based intervention methods to accelerate reading achievement. Their student-centered approach has allowed them to individualize the experience which is a key component of literacy instruction. Additionally, the program gives students access to thousands of digital books that match their independent and instructional reading level. Their goals for the program include increasing the number of qualified tutors, making a positive impact on academic achievement in reading for grades K-5, increasing student reading time, reducing the negative academic, social, and emotional effects of the pandemic, and expanding resources that parents can use to support literacy development at home. 


The United Way Director of Community Impact, Kari Lynn Somers, explained that “it’s a program based in research to help improve literacy and create a large increase in reading growth. [With] Mission Acceleration…we are looking to really improve reading scores on a fast-track level in response to the learning loss that happened during the pandemic.” Somers shared that the program has been a success so far, noting that 22 of their students saw four months of reading growth in just ten weeks. 

Tutors, or “academic guides” are made up of local college students who have reached out with interest in helping students. In order to be selected, tutors must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher, complete a background check, and commit to providing at least ten hours of tutoring each semester. They also receive a stipend for their work.


Providing an opportunity for students to develop their literacy skills with a qualified teacher comes with a myriad of benefits. Being able to work together in a one-on-one setting immediately sets up each session for success. Additionally, recovering lost time for students who need support with essential literacy skills not only accelerates their reading growth, but improves their academic performance across other subjects as well. With the adoption of the Mission Acceleration Program, students in Mississippi have a unique advantage that will eliminate the negative effects of the pandemic and allow them to move forward in their academic careers at a faster pace. Having developed their literacy skills that will help them meet grade expectations, students of this program have benefited from the evidence-based teaching methods that have proven effective and will propel them into the future.

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