City, county schools chosen for national testing

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Four schools in the Brookhaven and Lincoln County schooldistricts are gearing up to participate in a national standardizedtest in the coming months that will show Mississippi’s place in thenational education picture and attempt to validate recentcurriculum changes implemented by the Mississippi Department ofEducation.

Fourth-graders from Brookhaven Elementary School, and fourth-and eighth-graders from Bogue Chitto, Loyd Star and West Lincolnattendance centers will take the National Assessment of EducationalProgress test during a period ranging from January 26 to March6.

The tests, which are similar to the Mississippi Curriculum Testissued annually, are known as the Nation’s Report Card. The testsare issued every other year to get a national cross section ofstudents’ abilities in subjects like reading, writing andmathematics.

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“It just gives us a clearer notion on where we standnationally,” said Brookhaven School District Superintendent LeaBarrett. “It helps us decide which concepts we might need to teachmore thoroughly or deeply.”

The schools chosen to participate in NAEP are selectedrandomly.

Barrett said the test’s content is similar to that of MCT2 andthe Subject Area Testing Program exams. Results will only beavailable on a state-by-state basis, as comparingdistrict-to-district would not paint an accurate picture, shesaid.

But NAEP is being taken seriously, Barrett said, with the statedepartment of education soliciting support from the MississippiAssociation of School Superintendents, Mississippi School BoardsAssociation and the Mississippi Economic Council to help prepareteachers and students for the tests.

“When you’re looking at a business relocating to the South, theywant to know what Mississippi’s NAEP results are – whatMississippi’s kids know compared to other states,” she said. “Forthe past two years, we’ve had a more rigorous curriculum, and we’rebetter prepared to take this test. We hope we see betterresults.”

Other than giving students the ability to score higher on testslike NAEP, Barrett said the test would evaluate the more stringentchanges the state department of education has made in schools’curricula.

“It allows us to grade the changes that we’ve made,” shesaid.

Lincoln County School District Director of Curriculum RichelleRatcliff said the NAEP results would play an important part ineducation leaders’ ongoing efforts to readjust state schools’curriculum and close the achievement gap between Mississippi andother states.

“That’s part of why we’ve seen changes in the MCT and SATP – toput all our state testing systems more in line with the nationalstandard,” she said. “As our frameworks are being revised, they arelooking at NAEP standards and trying to align those with thenational standards.”

Across Mississippi, schools in 118 of the state’s 152 districtsare participating in NAEP.

Brookhaven Elementary School’s fourth-graders will take the NAEPon Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Bogue Chitto Attendance Center’s eighth-graders will take theNAEP on Thursday, Feb. 12. West Lincoln Attendance Center’sfourth-graders will be tested on Thursday, Feb. 19, and Loyd StarAttendance Center’s fourth-graders will take NAEP on Friday, Feb.20.