Area schools show improvement on state tests

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 17, 2007

Area schools showed improvement in a majority of MississippiCurriculum Test score categories, with some individual schoolsranking among the best in the state for their achievements.

MCT scores for the 2006-2007 school year were released today bythe Mississippi Department of Education.

The MCT evaluates 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 used as part of aformula to tabulate Adequate Yearly Progress, a key element in theNo Child Left Behind Act.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, all students are evaluatedand placed within four major categories that determine theirproficiency – minimal, basic, proficient and advanced. Alldistricts much move their students from the minimal and basiccategories to the proficient or advanced levels by 2014 or facefederal sanctions.

“We may have fallen a little short in some of the special needsareas and the Adequate Yearly Progress reports, but we had progressin every area, so I am elated about that,” said Lincoln CountySchool District Superintendent Terry Brister. “We feel likeacademically we did real well and made great strides.”

Brister said special needs is an area the district will look atclosely in the coming year. He said the results may not be limitedto the scores, but also the standards of how the school handlesstudents with special needs.

Meanwhile, West Lincoln Attendance Center posted some of thestrongest scores in the state in Adequate Yearly Progressreports.

The school had 100 percent of its students displaying proficientor advanced skills in sixth grade reading and math, anaccomplishment only three other schools can claim, and achieved arank of seventh in the state with 86.4 percent reaching thosestages in seventh grade reading and 91.9 percent in math. WestLincoln’s high school students also fared well, with biology scoresplacing fifth in the state.

Lea Barrett, superintendent of the Brookhaven School District,said scores in most grades showed marked improvement, but therewere a few areas of the test that displayed a “slight decline” whencompared with state averages.

However, she said, when the scores are compared with those ofthe same students in the prior year’s MCT test, the results aremuch more positive and reveal growth in all areas of the testedmaterial.

“That’s really what you’re looking for,” Barrett said. “If youcan achieve growth at the individual level then the district scoreswill follow.”

Test scores in a district can increase, but if they do notincrease at the same pace or faster than those of the state theywill show as a decline, she said.

Ronald Greer, who was named principal at Wesson AttendanceCenter during the summer, said he was still analyzing thescores.

“I think we did well in a lot of areas,” he said. “There aresome areas that raise some concerns and we need to do a better job.We’re not going to relax.”

The school was listed as seventh in the state in fifth grademath, with 98.7 percent of its students scoring as proficient oradvanced, and showed improvement above the state average in 17 of21 tested areas.

At the district level, however, Copiah County’s growth failed toachieve the pace set by the state in all but two tested areas; andCrystal Springs Middle School had the worst percentage in the stateof students achieving proficient or advanced skills in seventhgrade reading at 38.1 percent.

In the Lawrence County School District, Federal ProgramsDirector Angela Calcote said that “overall we are very pleased withour test scores.”

“I feel really good with our reading and math,” she said. “Youcan always improve, and we’re looking at language as our target forimprovement this year.”

Students at Topeka Tilton Attendance Center and New HebronAttendance Center made strong scores that placed them among thebest in the state in a pair of categories. Topeka was ranked fifthin the state in sixth grade reading with 97.2 percent of itsstudents testing as proficient or advanced and New Hebron was fifthin the state in seventh grade math.