Test results offer mixed bag for district

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2007

Editor’s note: The following is the last in a series ofarticles examining how area school districts fared in statewideMississippi Curriculum Test scores released Friday by theDepartment of Education. Charts are located on page 3.

Franklin County School District Mississippi Curriculum Testresults were mixed when compared to state averages, but officialssaid they continued to show improvement over previous years’scores.

“Districtwide, we were pleased,” said Superintendent LonaThomas. “We did show growth – maybe not as much as we wanted, butwe did show growth over the past year.”

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The district surpassed the state average scores in thirdgrade reading and three grades of math – second, third and sixth -and was equivalent to the state in second grade reading, seventhgrade language arts and fifth and eighth grade math. However, itfailed to meet those levels in 12 of the 21 tested areas.

Thomas said all scores showed improvement and even thosethat failed to meet state averages were closer to that average whencompared with results from the previous test.

“We were up in achievement at all three levels – lowerelementary, upper elementary and high school,” said Amber Combs,the district’s test coordinator.

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 areevaluated and placed within four major categories that determinetheir proficiency – 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.

Thomas said credit for the increases could be shared byteachers, students and a drive in the district to standardizereading and math programs on each campus.

“Our math scores throughout the district show improvementand we attribute that to a districtwide math program,” Combssaid.

Math and reading scores were largely at or above the stateaverages, but language arts was obviously a troubled area, Thomassaid. The success of the math program has prompted the district tostandardize in other areas as well.

“We’ve improved in our math scores every year and we thinkthat’s why,” she said. “We’re looking at that for our languagearts.”

As part of that standardization attempt, the junior highwill receive new language arts programs this year to bring them inline with the lower elementary.

“We haven’t got to complete continuity yet at all grades inlanguage arts, but we’re getting there,” Thomas said.

Math was also a strong point for the district at the highschool level. One hundred percent of tested students passed thealgebra portion of the Subject Area Test Program. Additionally, 100percent passed the English II writing assessment.

Thomas said they were also pleased with the 19.2 compositeACT score, which is above the state average of 18.9.