City scores show a need for improvement; Cox optimistic

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014

State test scores have been released and Ben Cox, the superintendent of Brookhaven school district is looking at them with optimism toward the future, even though Brookhaven’s scores are not perfect.

“We are going to try to improve in every area. I don’t want any fast, quick fixes. We can slowly do things to help,” said Cox. He added that in so many areas the schools are very close to the state average, and he argued that if the schools are close this year, then next year they should be able to easily meet or exceed the state average.

The test results that were released to the public today are only a portion of the entire assessment picture that will be released next month.

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“The performance levels on state tests were lower this year as expected because the 2014 tests were not aligned to Mississippi’s higher academic standards,” said Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We are looking forward to implementing the state’s new assessments in 2015, which will provide a more meaningful measure of what students are currently learning in class.”

Two tests scores were released: the Mississippi Curriculum Tests Second Edition (MCT2) and the Subject Area Testing Program Second Edition (SATP2.) Brookhaven school district scored at or above the state average pass rate in seven out of 18 tests.

Cox said that the schools in his district have been creating more academic programs for students, such as tutoring; offering more honors classes and developing a new curriculum that will align with Common Core testing. They are also continually working on teacher development. He added that there are always improvements and changes being made within the school district to improve the quality of education for students.

The MCT2 test is given to students in grades three through eight and assesses mathematics and language arts. Science is also tested in the fifth and eighth grade. According to the Mississippi Department of Education, the test allows the state to be in compliance with the requirements of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and results will be used in the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System to measure growth and progress.

Brookhaven scored at or above the state average on six of the 14 MCT2 sections. Brookhaven Schools performed well in fifth and eighth grade science, fifth and eight grade language arts, and seventh and eighth grade math. However, the school district came in under the state average in third, fourth, sixth and seventh grade language arts and third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade math.

The SATP2 tests Algebra I, Biology I, U.S. history and English II and is graduation requirement for high school students. To receive a diploma, students must pass all four subject area tests.

Brookhaven High School had ten percent fewer students pass the Algebra I test than the state average, two percent fewer students pass English II and four percent fewer pass the U.S. History test. BHS excelled in Biology I as 13 percent more students passed than the state average.

Cox said that these are the results of the first round of testing. For students who did not pass the first round, there will be a retest. Students have more than one opportunity per academic year to take the SATP2.

More information about school performance rankings will be released in September including dropout and graduation rates as well as accountability letter grades.