Wesson leads district, posting high test scores

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wesson Attendance Center posted strong scores in MississippiCurriculum Test and Subject Area Testing Program results releasedlast week by the state Department of Education, but the CopiahCounty School District as a whole continues to struggle with scoreslower than the state average across the board.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articlesexamining in detail by school district the Mississippi CurriculumTest and Subject Area Test Program results announced recently.Other districts will follow.

The MCT tests every student in grades two through eight inreading, language arts and mathematics skills. Besides providingeducators and the public with a glimpse at how their schoolscompare with others in the state. The scores are also used as partof a formula to tabulate Adequate Yearly Progress, a key element inthe federal No Child Left Behind Act. Those results will bereleased in September.

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Under No Child Left Behind, all students are evaluated andplaced into one of four major categories that determine theirproficiency – minimal, basic, proficient or advanced. All districtsmust move their students from the minimal and basic categories tothe proficient or advanced levels by 2014 or face federalsanctions.

Copiah County showed some improvement over last year, butstudents’ mean scores in the 21 tested areas of the MCT were allbelow the state average – in some cases significantly below.However, in several tested areas the mean score was only slightlybelow the state average.

In contrast, only two tested areas at WAC, third-grade readingand third-grade math, scored below the state average. In many othercategories, the school greatly exceeded that average.

The third-grade scores came as no surprise, said WAC PrincipalBilly Britt.

“Although they were below the state average, they did betterthan we expected,” he said. “We did show growth in every grade.It’s just in some areas we did not meet the state growth.”

Despite scoring below the state average in reading and math,Britt said 100 percent of the third-grade students met theirbenchmarks in the three subjects to continue progression throughthe system. Students in third and seventh grades must meet certainminimum standards before they can progress beyond the fourth andeighth grades.

The principal said he was especially pleased by the testingresults in language arts, where there were significant increases atall grades except sixth.

“Our scores were better than last year,” Britt said. “Weimproved over last year overall. We’ve still got work to do. We’reproud and pleased, but we still have goals unmet.”

With scores on the rise, Britt said other subjects can nowreceive more attention.

“The state test scores are important, but we have to go beyondthat,” he said. “There are a lot of other important things outthere (students) need to know beyond the tested subjects.”

Strong parental and district support, which Britt says theschool has, are also important in helping a school meet its goals,he said.