Lawrence Co. notes state test progress

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lawrence County School District officials said they were pleasedwith the results on Mississippi Curriculum Test scores releasedFriday and are optimistic that scores would continue to improvethis year.

“Overall we are very pleased with our test scores. I feel reallygood with our reading and math,” said Lawrence County SchoolDistrict Federal Programs Director Angela Calcote. “You can alwaysimprove, and we’re looking at language as our target forimprovement this year.”

Test results had New Hebron Attendance Center joining Topeka TiltonAttendance Center on exclusive statewide lists naming the topschools in the state in selected categories. Topeka and New Hebronmade strong scores that placed them among the best in the state ina pair of categories.

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Topeka was ranked fifth in the state in sixth grade reading with97.2 percent of its students testing as proficient or advanced andNew Hebron was fifth in the state in seventh grade math.

The MCT tests every student in grades two through eight in reading,language arts and mathematics skills. The tests provide educatorsand the public with a glimpse at how their schools compare withothers in the state and are used as part of a formula to tabulateAdequate Yearly Progress, a key element in the federal No ChildLeft Behind Act.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, all students are evaluated andplaced 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.

As a district, reading scores were all above the state average,except in the second grade. However, reading and math scores in allgrades beat the state average in the number of students rated asproficient or above, including second grade reading, which postedan 88.9 percent rate.

Movement in the AYP pathway was also strong in the district’sweakest area, language arts. Despite posting numbers below thestate average in four of seven grades, the highest percentage ofstudents testing at the minimal level was 8.2 percent.

Calcote said the district showed a lot of movement in languagearts, which was a target area last year and will again be a focusthis year.

“Even those that were below the state average were very close,” shesaid.

Scores on the high school Subject Area Test Program showed littlechange and none met the state average.

“I was a little concerned about that, but (Lawrence County HighSchool Principal Daryl) Scoggin has already made some adjustmentsand has several things he is looking at doing differently thisyear,” Calcote said.

Scoggin said it can be difficult to determine the cause of asuccess or failure in a tested grade at times, but he is refiningthe process.

“There are so many variables that sometimes you go up in some andslip in others and remain the same,” he said.

Calcote said the district has high hopes for the year because itwill be the first year they will be able to utilize data specificto each child gathered during the past five years to gauge theirstrengths and weaknesses. That will allow the district to betterdetermine which students should receive advanced placement andwhich would benefit from additional instruction.