Wesson shines in state test results

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wesson Attendance Center remains a shining star in the CopiahCounty School District, where Mississippi Curriculum Test scoresare improving but are still not meeting growth across thestate.

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

Ronald Greer, who was named principal at Wesson AttendanceCenter during the summer, said the district did well overall.

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“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.

“You just can’t do much better than that,” Greer said about thefifth grade math scores. “The goal is to have nothing but zeros inthe minimal and basic groups, though.”

Reading scores also show marked improvement, he said. Greercredited a reading program, now in its third year, for much of thesuccess there.

“Not only has that helped with those K-3 students, but it alsocarries on to the higher grades,” he said.

The MCT tests every student in grades two through eight inreading, language arts and mathematics skills. The tests provideeducators and the public with a glimpse at how their schoolscompare with others in the state and are used as part of a formulato tabulate Adequate Yearly Progress, a key element in the federalNo Child Left Behind Act.

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 must move their students from the minimal and basiccategories to the proficient or advanced levels by 2014 or facefederal sanctions.

Based on the results of the test, Greer said he does not expectto make many major changes in the curriculum during his first year.However, he will institute a program to more closely monitorindividual students.

“We’re pretty much staying with what we have academically,” hesaid. “We will be using a student progress monitoring system thisyear. We’ll look at those kids individually to see if we canimprove on those skills; and if we find a flaw in our processeswe’ll need to make changes there as well.”

Greer said he would like to see more progress in the high schoolSubject Area Test Program, which tests all high school students inalgebra, U.S. history, biology and English.

Although the school showed a 7.2 percent increase in Englishscores, the principal said it needed “to address some things inalgebra.” Algebra scores surpassed the state average, but “lostsome ground” and administrators are trying to determine the bestway to regain the edge on the state pace.

However, Wesson continued to post strong ACT scores. Theschool’s average of 20.1 was again above the state’s 18.9.

At the district level, however, Copiah County’s elation ofimproving scores was tempered with the knowledge that thedistrict’s average mean score failed to achieve the pace set by thestate in all but two tested areas.

Additionally, Crystal Springs Middle School had the worstpercentage in the state of students achieving proficient oradvanced skills in seventh grade reading at 38.1 percent.

Greer said he could not explain the differences between districtand school scoring.

“I really don’t know that we’re doing anything different,” hesaid. “We go to the same training and offer the same programs. Iknow it’s being addressed and they’re working very hard.”