Lincoln schools get high marks in test areas

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 25, 2006

Area schools generally posted above average scores inMississippi Curriculum Test and Subject Area Test Program resultsreleased last week, but how do individual schools stack up againsteach other?

At best, it is a difficult comparison when all the variables aretaken under consideration and, perhaps, a definitive analysiscannot be made, school officials said.

“You can’t really compare schools by looking at how the samegrades score on the MCT, but it might be the best yardstick we haveavailable to us,” said Lawrence County Superintendent RussellCaudill.

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By gauging how students in the same grade compare with another,especially in the later grades, a fair estimate can be made of aschool system’s ability to produce students with the tools theywill need as they advance to college or seek employment.

A much clearer picture of student growth can be found bycomparing the scores of a grade last year to the next grade thisyear, such as the last year’s fourth grade class to this year’sfifth grade class, superintendents said.

“At least that way you’re comparing apples to apples instead ofapples to oranges,” said Brookhaven School District SuperintendentLea Barrett, citing an old proverb. “You’re looking at the samestudents so the results are more accurate.”

Variables such as the number of special education students in agrade, student performance on standardized tests (some test well,others don’t), socioeconomic factors like poverty or nontraditionalfamilies and other factors all contribute to making each classunique at each school, superintendents said.

For example, superintendents said, rural districts oftenoutperform urban districts on standardized testing because somefactors, such as poverty, tend to be less prevalent.

Regardless, local superintendents were pleased with theirdistricts’ performance on MCT and SATP scores. Generally, allschools posted gains in second through eighth grade math, readingand language and in four targeted subjects of high schoolinstruction.

Among the 14 target areas in reading and math among secondthrough eighth grades, a Lincoln County school led all area schoolsin both reading and math from second through fifth grades.

In the sixth grade, West Lincoln Attendance Center attained thetop spot in reading, but Lawrence County’s Topeka-Tilton AttendanceCenter supplanted a Lincoln County school in math. However, WestLincoln claimed the second math slot at that grade.

Lincoln County’s Enterprise Attendance Center and West Lincolntied for the top spot in seventh grade reading, but West Lincolnand Loyd Star trailed Lawrence County’s New Hebron AttendanceCenter in seventh grade math. Topeka-Tilton and Copiah County’sWesson Attendance Center tied for the fourth best score.

Topeka-Tilton rose to claim the top spot in both reading andmath at the eighth grade level. West Lincoln and Wesson claimed thesecond and third best scores, respectively, at that level.

Natchez-Adams School District, McComb City School District andHazlehurst School District claimed the lowest scores on thestandardized testing in a majority of the categories.