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County students fare well on tests

Lincoln County School District officials are pleased with howwell students fared in statewide and national scores on a series oftests taken last spring.

Results for three of the four tests were released recentlyshowing Lincoln County students ranking above average in almostevery area.

The Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT) given to students ingrades two through eight is designed to measure what students arelearning in reading, language and mathematics.

“These tests are required of all students, even those in aspecial education class,” said Dr. Leanne Summers, assistantsuperintendent of Lincoln County Schools.

The MCT is also used every year to help teachers understand theareas of need in the classroom.

“In the last several years, we’ve really emphasized reading andlanguage, so now we’re going to continue that emphasis because it’spaid off. We also need to have a closer look at math,” saidSummers.

The writing assessment test given to students in fourth andseventh grade during March 2002 showed Lincoln County fourth gradestudents below the 2.5 state average and seventh graders makingunder the 2.3 state mean.

Fourth graders scored a 2.4 average, while seventh graders inthe district had an average of 2.2.

“We’re concerned about our writing assessment for grades fourand seven,” said Summers. “Across the district last year, ourscores were weak, and while we made improvement this year, we arestill below the state mean.”

She believes the tests do not “accurately reflect” what LincolnCounty students are capable of achieving.

Teachers in those grades will look at ways to improve thewriting skills of students, so that their skills meet and exceedthe state mean next year, Summers added.

“We’ve got to put more emphasis on authentic writing, beginningearly, where students are writing paragraphs and stories,” saidSummers.

The nationwide comparison of fifth and eighth graders who tookthe Terra Nova test last spring brought favorable results to thedistrict.

Students scored above the national norm group in every subject– reading, language and mathematics.

Eighth graders improved their scores over the previous scoresdramatically. They ranked 60 in reading in 2002, compared to only44 in 2001. They also improved from 37 to 51 in math and 47 to 53in language.

However, fifth graders dropped slightly from the 2001 testscores in every subject, which has school officials ready to assessthe problems before next year’s tests.

Improving upon the state and national tests will be a goal setby educators this fall when they start another school year.

“During our professional development sessions at the beginningof the year, we will be looking at all test scores and identifyingstrengths and weaknesses to adjust instruction,” said Summers.

Beginning next year the MCT, which was given last year as partof a trial run, will be used in the third and seventh grades todetermine whether students pass or fail those grades.

If a student passed his or her grade, but failed the MCT, theywill be required to receive instructional intervention and/orremediation. Students who did not reach the benchmarks will havethe opportunity to again after a semester of remediation.

Students who do not meet the benchmarks for the second time arereferred to an external school review team that will use criteriaset by the Mississippi Department of Education to recommendpromotion or retention.