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Starkville, Oktibbeha district scores lag behind state average


Dispatch Staff Report



Students in Starkville and Oktibbeha school districts tended to fall behind the state average for students performing at proficient and advanced on the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2. 


And both districts'' superintendents agree the test results have helped to identify areas for improvement, areas in which the districts already have plans to make progress. 


"These scores are measuring specific content knowledge, and certainly we need to be hitting the marks because this is what our district is measured by," said Judy Couey, superintendent of Starkville School District. "But I think it tells us a lot of about student performance on the test and how we need to improve instruction as well. 


"I can''t be disappointed with test scores. Because of them, we see where we need to improve and how." 


Students in grades three through eight took the MCT2 test in May, testing their knowledge in math and language arts. 


Starkville students fell mostly behind the state in percentage of students performing at proficient and advanced. However, in sixth-grade math 56.2 percent of SSD students tested at proficient and advanced compared to the state average of 52.3 percent. 


"When we look at our test scores, we look at those children who were very close to the next level," said Couey. "We know we need to move them to the other side, the more positive side. That''s a focus to begin with." 


Couey said students scoring the basic and minimal categories will get additional instruction in the form of interventions. 


In Oktibbeha County School District, students fell behind the state average for students performing at proficient and advanced in all test areas. 


In fourth-, sixth- and eighth-grade language arts, the district had no students to test high enough to be considered advanced. The same was true in third-, fourth- and eighth-grade math. 


"We are certainly not where we want to be," said James Covington, superintendent of OCSD. "What we''re doing is making sure that teachers are teaching to the rigor that the test is testing. We''re constantly undergoing professional development where we are dissection those benchmarks and making sure we are teaching to the rigor of this new curriculum." 


The MCT 2, first used statewide in 2008, is a more rigorous test than the previous edition of the MCT. The new test was designed to be more in line with national standards. 


"It''s just taking time -- not just for teachers to make sure they are teaching, but for teachers to make the assessment, to make sure kids are learning to the level they are teaching." 






On the Subject Area Test Program, Starkville high schoolers'' percentage of students passing was above the state average in Biology I -- 94.3 percent compared to the state''s 88.4. But the district fell behind the state average in all other test areas -- Algebra I, U.S. history and English II. 


OSD high schoolers fell behind the state in every area, most significantly in Algebra 1, where 41.2 percent of OSD students passed, compared to the 68.4 state average.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Curious commented at 8/24/2009 12:46:00 PM:

First of all why do we still have two school districts in Oktibbeha County? We need to consolidate these two districts to save money. Have one administrative staff for the Starkville and the county. Do not close any schools just put it all under one administration to save money. I was told by a teacher that she was told just to teach and practice what was on the test. Do not worry about anything else. Our poor kids are being screwed by government run schools and the parents do not care at all. If they did they would demand more out of our tax dollars!!


Article Comment JB commented at 8/24/2009 11:18:00 PM:

After living here 10 years, I still can't figure out how Starkville, with >5% of its population holding PhDs, can have a school district that performs so poorly. And even harder for me to figure out is why the citizens of Starkville tolerate it.

The publication of data that shows our schools to be "below average" in the lowest ranked education state in the Union should provoke outrage. But, Starkvillians simply yawn. I just don't get it!


Article Comment Doctor D commented at 8/25/2009 9:45:00 AM:

So can we get our 24 million dollar school bond back.


Article Comment DDD commented at 8/25/2009 9:51:00 AM:

After graduating three sons from Starkville Schools let me add another perspective. Why do our scores lag behind the Ocean Springs, Clintons, Corinth, etc. ? Starkville schools are consist of a large minority enrollment. Probably 2/3's of the mninority students qualify for free lunches. So we are talking about kids that come from economically disadvantaged familiies. As a whole, these kids for the most part are not going to test well. Another thing that skews the scores is the number of white students that attend Starkville Academy, Starkville Christian School, Hebron, and are home schooled. If you added these non-public school children's scores into the matrix, the scores would no doubt rise considerably. Starkville schools for the most part have great teachers. There are some that aren't that good, but for the most part they do an excellent job. It was not uncommon for me to go to open houses to visit with teachers and see very few minority parents walking the halls of the school. Parent apathy is a huge part of the problem. Raising scores will not be easy; there is no magic wand.


Article Comment Debra commented at 8/28/2009 6:23:00 PM:

I have raised 3 children in the Starkville School District. My first child was ruined, almost by this district. The problem was the school district had its favorites (students) by who the parents were. He quit school and only lacked 4 semesters graduating. He was profiled by teachers and could not loose that rep. I encouraged him to get his GED. He went on to college and is now a police officer. He left Starkville and is glad that he did. My second, graduated from Starkville High. He had to try and live down his sibling's rep. He is very talented and was unable to participate in sports because of the profiling. My third attended Armstrong. This child was called "stupid" by his teacher. When confronted, the teacher explained that he wanted my child to feel a part of the classroom. This indicated to me that he did this to other children. I drew the line at this. I pulled him out. He went from F's to A and B's. Now, I don't know who to blame this on, but I did all I could to be heard and all I got was deaf ears. I gave up on this school and its system. If your parents aren't what they deem as influential, your child does not matter.


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