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Test scores higher, but state wants more

Students in area school districts have made strides on state tests, mirroring a statewide trend of increased proficiency.

Statewide test scores recently released for tests in English Language Arts and math show students’ proficiency statewide in ELA has increased from 33.6 percent to 41.6 percent, while proficiency in math has increased from 33 percent to 47.3 percent.

Students in the Brookhaven, Copiah County, Lawrence County and Lincoln County school districts overall had average increases within those ranges, according to data analysis by The Daily Leader.

In ELA, which tests reading, writing, comprehension and spelling, 39 percent of area students tested proficient or advanced, an increase over last year’s proficiency rate of 34.23.

In math, 35.7 percent of area students scored proficient, an increase over last year’s proficiency rate of 30.57.

The state’s plan to improve student achievement calls for at least 70 percent of all students to be proficient in ELA and math by 2025. Scores posted last year indicated students are not on track to meet that goal.

The Mississippi Department of Education’s reports on this year’s test results show how students scored on standardized exams called the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests. The tests are given each spring to high school students and third through eighth grades, and have been administered for four years.

The computerized tests use percentages to rank scores in five levels. Levels one and two show minimal and basic knowledge, level three is passing, and levels four and five are proficient and advanced. Levels four and five are listed as proficiency in testing results.

Students in grades three through eight take tests in ELA and math, and high school students take tests in English and Algebra I. The tests are given in the spring and the MDE releases the results in mid-August. 

MAAP, developed with the help of teachers, measures the progress of students to reach academic goals so they can succeed in college and the workforce.

The four area school districts did not place in the top 10 statewide nor in the bottom 10.

The Lincoln County School District overall had some of the highest scores in the region, and in some grades scored higher than the statewide proficiency averages. Most elementary school students at Enterprise, Loyd Star, West Lincoln, and Bogue Chitto attendance centers surpassed the top rates in ELA. Some of the scores were nearly double or more than double the state’s top rates for the grades and subject matter.

All of the district’s high school students surpassed the state proficiency average in English I, and most scored double the state’s top algebra rate.

Like many of the region’s schools, many elementary school students in the Lincoln County district lagged behind in math, except for the West Lincoln attendance center.

Students in the Brookhaven district overall scored in the mid-range of proficiency levels, and sometimes below. The district’s average passing rate was about 70 percent.

Scores indicate Brookhaven High School students are prepared to face college or the workforce. They surpassed the state’s top Algebra I score and nearly met the top English I score. Also, Alexander Jr. High’s eighth graders outpaced the state’s eighth grade math rate. And Brookhaven third graders surpassed their grade’s ELA scores.

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ray Carlock is pleased with the students’ progress, but said the numbers show areas where students need to improve, such as in math at the lower grade levels.

“The teachers worked really hard this past year, and so did many of the students, but at the same time we do have some areas of concerns and will be devoting resources in efforts to improve,” Carlock said.

“We do have some areas of concern with some of the math scores in elementary and with professional development, our curriculum, and making sure they’re to the rigor of standards. It’s an ongoing process. Districtwide, we have a big push on improving our instruction, important content of the curriculum and our assessment of how students are doing.”

Based on test data, the district tries to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children, Carlock said.

“Our board and our community want and deserve to see us growing districtwide and moving toward higher accountability ratings, and that’s what we plan to do,” he said. “The future of our children depends on it.”

Will Brookhaven students meet the 70 percent proficiency rate by 2025? That’s the goal, Carlock said.

The state’s push for higher proficiency ratings aims to improve the level of education and to improve student’s success in college or in the workforce, State Superintendent Carey Wright said in a news release.

When the first MAAP tests were given in 2016, only one-third of students met or exceeded grade-level expectations, Wright said. By 2019, closer to half the state’s students have met or exceeded those expectations. 

“Mississippi students are outpacing the nation in learning gains thanks to the hard work of teachers, school staff, school leaders, and parents,” Wright said.


High school English

The average proficiency score statewide was 49.3 percent, with 87 percent passing.

Wesson Attendance Center had the region’s highest proficiency rate, 58.3 percent, and the highest passing rate, 94.1 percent.

West Lincoln had the second highest proficiency rate, 57.4 percent, and a passing rate of 86.91 percent.

Most attendance centers in the Lincoln County School District exceeded state averages. The district had a proficiency average of 46.7 percent and a passing rate of 82.1 percent. 

Some schools were points away from scoring proficient. Enterprise scored 44 percent proficiency (with 72 percent passing), Bogue Chitto reached 43.1 percent (with 83.1 percent passing), and Loyd Star had 41.5 percent proficiency (and a passing rate of 84.9 percent).

Lawrence County High School had 36.7 percent proficiency (79.1 percent passing.

High school Algebra I

Statewide, 87 percent of high school students passed high school algebra and 49.3 were proficient.

Alexander Junior High had the region’s highest average proficiency rate of 94.8 percent, possibly one of the highest in the state, and 100 percent of the local students passed Algebra I.

The other schools exceeding the proficiency rate were West Lincoln, 66.6 percent proficient (with 96.8 passing); and Rod Paige, 50 percent proficient (with 100 percent passing).

The next highest proficiency rate was at Brookhaven High, with 42.4 percent (86.5 percent passing).

Also, below the state average were Enterprise at 33.3 percent proficient (74.2 percent passing) and Wesson at 38.5 percent (51.8 percent passing).

The lowest proficiency rates were at Bogue Chitto, 10.4 percent (64.2 percent passing) and Loyd Star, 22 percent (80 percent passing).

ELA third – eighth grade

Statewide, 76.7 percent of third grade students passed ELA and 48.3 percent were proficient.

Third grade

• Top five proficient: West Lincoln, 84.2 percent; Wesson, 61.6 percent; Enterprise, 56 percent; Bogue Chitto, 53.6 percent; and New Hebron, 52.6 percent.

• Top five passing: Topeka Tilton, 92 percent; Enterprise, 90.9 percent; West Lincoln, 86.5 percent; Brookhaven, 83.2 percent; and Loyd Star, 83.4 percent.

Fourth grade

• Top five proficient: West Lincoln, 84.2 percent; Enterprise, 56 percent; Bogue Chitto, 53.6 percent; New Hebron, 52.6 percent; and Brookhaven, 41.5 percent.

• Top five passing: Wesson, 93.7 percent; West Lincoln, 91.2 percent; Bogue Chitto, 85.7 percent; Enterprise, 83.1 percent; and Monticello, 79.5 percent

Fifth grade

• Top 5 proficient: Wesson 61.6; Enterprise, 54.4 percent; West Lincoln, 49.1; Loyd Star, 48.6; Bogue Chitto, 44.1.

• Top 5 passing: Enterprise, 94.1 percent; Wesson, 94 percent; Loyd Star, 83.9 percent; West Lincoln, 82.4; and Topeka Tilton, 7.6 percent.

Sixth grade

• Top 5 proficient: West Lincoln, 57.6 percent; Enterprise, 45.5 percent; Topeka Hilton, 38.1 percent; Bogue Chitto, 32.1 percent; and Lipsey, 30.1 percent.

• Top 5 passing: West Lincoln, 86.4 percent; Enterprise, 77.9 percent; Bogue Chitto, 76.7 percent; Loyd Star, 76.5 percent; Topeka Tilton, 70.8 percent.

Seventh grade

• Top 5 proficient: West Lincoln, 53 percent; Topeka Tilton, 52.8 percent; Loyd Star, 45.6 percent; Wesson, 36.5 percent; and Enterprise, 35.3 percent.

• Top 4 passing: West Lincoln, 92.4 percent; Topeka Tilton, 86.1 percent; Enterprise, 78.4 percent; and Topeka Tilton, 52.8 percent.

Eighth grade

• Top 5 proficient: West Lincoln, 53.9 percent; Topeka Tilton, 47.4 percent; Wesson, 44.9 percent; Rod Paige, 37.9 percent; and Bogue Chitto, 32.7 percent.

• Top 5 passing: Topeka Hilton, 94.8 percent; West Lincoln, 90.4 percent; Wesson, 83.8 percent; New Hebron, 82.7 percent; and Rod Paige, 82.5 percent.

Math Third – Eighth grade

Third grade

• Top proficient: Topeka Tilton, 89.5 percent; Enterprise, 58.4 percent; and Loyd Star, 44.4 percent.

• Top passing: Topeka Tilton, 97.4 percent; Enterprise, 86.1 percent; New Hebron, 76.6 percent; and Wesson and West Lincoln each had 73.3 percent.

• Bogue Chitto had the lowest proficiency rate, 22.8 percent, but a high passing rate of 80 percent.

Fourth grade

• Top proficient: West Lincoln, 75.4 percent; Monticello, 39.8 percent; and Wesson, 43.6 percent.

• Top passing: West Lincoln, 94.7 percent; Wesson, 83.3 percent; Topeka Tilton, 81.8 percent; Monticello, 79.6 percent; and Wesson, 83.3 percent.

• Loyd Star had the lowest proficiency rating, 16.9 percent, and the lowest passing rate, 55.4 percent.

Fifth grade

• Top proficient: Enterprise, 61.8 percent; Wesson, 61.6 percent; Bogue Chito, 54.4 percent; Rod Paige, 43.6 percent; and Rod Paige, 43.6 percent.

• Top passing: Enterprise, 97.1 percent; Bogue Chito, 89.7 percent; West Lincoln, 85.9 percent; Loyd Star, 85.9 percent; and Wesson, 84.5 percent.

Sixth grade

• Top proficient: West Lincoln, 61.7 percent; Topeka Tilton, 56.4 percent; Wesson, 48.1 percent; New Hebron, 43.1 percent; and Lipsey, 34.6 percent.

• Top passing: New Hebron, 90.8 percent; West Lincoln, 86.7 percent; Wesson, 83.5 percent; Loyd Star, 81 percent; and Topeka Tilton, 78.2 percent.

Seventh grade

• Top proficient: Topeka Tilton, 68.5 percent; West Lincoln, 68.2 percent; Wesson, 41.6 percent; Enterprise, 41.2 percent; and New Hebron, 36.7 percent.

• Top passing: Topeka Hilton, 91.4 percent; West Lincoln, 90.9 percent; Enterprise, 84.3 percent; Wesson, 79.3 percent; and Loyd Star, 72 percent.

• Bogue Chitto had the lowest proficiency rate, 20 percent.

Eighth grade

• Top proficiency: West Lincoln, 76.2 percent; Topeka Tilton, 65.8 percent; Wesson, 55.4 percent; Brookhaven, 48.8 percent; New Hebron, 31 percent.

• Top passing: West Lincoln, 88.9 percent; Topeka Tilton, 89.5 percent; Wesson, 82.4 percent; Brookhaven, 72.5 percent.

• Bogue Chito had the lowest proficiency rate, 11.5 percent, and the lowest passing rate, 30.5 percent.


Story by Robin Eyman