• 68°

Schools cite progress in test results

Superintendents are pleased with their district’s overallprogress in Mississippi Curriculum Test scores released today bythe state Department of Education but admit there are areas thatrequire more scrutiny and intervention.

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a seriesanalyzing area school districts’ Mississippi Curriculum Testscores. Results from Lincoln County, Lawrence County and Brookhavenschool districts and Wesson Attendance Center will be highlightedin coming days.

“I think after reviewing our results you’ll see that we’removing in a positive direction,” said James Tillman, superintendentof the Brookhaven School District. “There is room for improvement,but I think the district as a whole is doing well.”

The superintendent said the test results released today arepreliminary and are subject to some adjustment. The adjustments aremade at the state level.

Every student in the district is required to take the tests whenthey are administered, he said, but some do not meet therequirements for their scores to count for or against the district,and adjustments must be made when they are removed from the finaltally.

Those adjustments typically boost some scores slightly, hesaid.

Richelle Ratcliff, curriculum coordinator for the Lincoln CountySchool District, agreed.

“There are still some adjustments to be made, so scores couldchange,” she said. “Some students may not meet the requirements,such as time in district, and will have to be removed.”

Terry Brister, superintendent of the Lincoln County SchoolDistrict, said the adjustments will probably boost a few scores,but the district performed well overall.

“I think our schools did well and I think we can be proud ofwhat we’ve done,” he said. “However, every school has room forimprovement.”

Brister said he was especially pleased with the progressconsidering the distractions educators were facing preceding andduring the state testing this year. He cited a funding shortfallpassed down to the state Department of Education, which then cuteach district’s state funding, that threatened teacher’s jobs asonly one of those budget distractions.

“I’m very proud of our students and faculty’s performance duringthis time,” he said. “There were budget concerns every day thatcould have been distracting, but they stayed focused and positiveand got the job done,” he said.

Sharon Dungan, federal programs and testing coordinator for theLawrence County School District, said the district made substantialprogress.

“The majority of our district scores increased from 2003 to2004,” she said. “We’re almost a reflection of the state averagedistrictwide.”

She said gains in proficiency levels were satisfying. The MCTcategorizes students in four categories — minimal, basic,proficient and advanced — in determining the success of districts.The goal of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is for allstudents statewide to reach the proficient level by 2014.

High percentages in some seventh- and eighth-grade minimal orbasic scores are reason for concern, she said, but studentscontinue to show improvement.

“Those numbers are significant, but students are moving fromthose lower-proficiency categories to the higher ones,” she said.”We’re progressing well. Those numbers were all higher last year.We’re very pleased with our progress so far.”

Lawrence County School District Superintendent Russell Caudillsaid the district had been anxiously awaiting the release of thescores.

“This is always an exciting time of the year for parents andteachers,” he said. “It’s an outside validation of all the hardwork they’ve done to increase those scores. We always look forwardto their release.”