Test results encourage city leaders

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 29, 2008

Brookhaven School District officials said they are encouraged byjust-released scores on the Mississippi Curriculum Tests andSubject Area Testing Program, an assessment system to show theproficiency and progress of elementary, middle school and highschool students.

Superintendent Lea Barrett said the MCT tests, which measure theproficiency of not only the district but the individual schools,are a part of an overall plan to make every child in the schooldistrict proficient in the subject areas of language arts andmathematics before 2014.

Barrett said a district also has to meet the graduate ratestandards and attendance rate standards. In addition, 95 percent ofstudents must be tested in both subject areas to meet adequateyearly progress (AYP).

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The district’s numbers showed that of the children tested inlanguage arts in grades 3-8, 39.8 percent tested at a basicproficiency level, 40.2 percent tested as proficient and 7.7percent scored as advanced, with the rest testing out at minimallevels.

In mathematics, 29.5 percent tested basic, 45.7 percent wereproficient, and 6.4 percent tested as advanced.

“The only place we didn’t make AYP, the numbers showed we onlytested 94 percent of our special ed students, and we’redouble-checking to see if that was an error of some kind,” Barrettsaid.

That is why, Barrett said, it is so important for parents tomake certain their children are in attendance during the testingperiods.

“Most of ours were at 99 percent testing,” she said.

Barrett said since the testing program included more rigoroustests for the 2007-2008 school year, there really can’t be acomparison made to last year’s testing proficiency.

“But in terms of proficiency, I was very encouraged by ourscores,” she said.

However, there are a few places Barrett said the district needsto step it up a notch or two.

“We see a few pockets we need to be working on, including fifthgrade math and language skills at the junior high level,” she said.”Our eighth grade math scores also need improvement.”

The fifth grade scored at 20.7 percent minimal proficiencylevels in math, with the seventh grade scoring 23.2 percent minimaland the eighth grade logging a 30.4. percent minimal level.

Junior high language scores were not as shocking as the mathscores, however, with the seventh grade’s 18.8 percent minimalproficiency level in language arts, and the eighth grade’s 17.6percent.

But there were also some areas that were exceptionally strong,Barrett said, including the high school algebra and biology scoreson the SATPs.

The school had 69 percent of their students score proficient oradvanced in biology over the state’s 66 percent total, with 75percent scoring proficient or advanced in algebra. Mississippioverall had a 58 percent total scoring proficient or advanced inalgebra.

“When you look at the percentage of kids that the state had whoscored minimal, we’re lower in most of those areas, and we alsowent over the number who were advanced for the state as well,” shesaid.

The district’s percentages of students who passed were above thestate average on the SATPs in every area except the informativeessays. An overall 95.2 percent of Brookhaven students passed U.S.history, as opposed to 94.3 percent in the state. Brookhaven had90.6 percent pass biology, compared with the state’s 87.9 percent.Algebra numbers for the city were 16.6 percent higher than thestate average, as Brookhaven had 87.6 percent of their studentspass while only 71 percent of the students in Mississippi did, andthe state’s 69.7 percent passage rate in English was also wellbelow Brookhaven’s 78.2 percent.

Ninety-six percent of Mississippi students passed theinformative essay category, while 95.3 percent of BHS studentsdid.