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Area districts tout improvement on test scores


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Link Link: Mississippi Department of Education test results online

Jason Browne



School districts around the Golden Triangle are touting their improvements today following the release of 2009-2010 accountability testing results. 


In Columbus, Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips expressed excitement over gains in achievement at all district schools. 


"We are proud of the dedication of our teachers, principals and staff for their work to improve the quality of education for every child," he said. 


Columbus Municipal Schools reported gains and met growth indicators at all five elementary schools. According to a CMSD press release, "Seven schools reported an increase in the Quality Distribution Index (QDI) which resulted in an increase in the district QDI." 


Lee Middle School saw an increase in seventh- and eighth-graders scoring proficient or advanced in math and Columbus High School showed a "significant increase in the passage rate on the Algebra I test and an increase in the graduation rate." 


The district expressed a need for improvement in language in third, fifth and eighth grades, as well as the English II Subject Area Test at CHS. 


According to the release, "The district has taken steps to address these challenges with the implementation of a new reading program that is more closely aligned to state standards." 


Lowndes County Schools had a banner year, with five of nine schools moving up in rank and three holding steady. Only New Hope High School slipped in the rankings. 


"We''re very proud of our schools. We''ve seen an upward trend in student achievement," said Dr. Peggy Rogers, assistant superintendent for Lowndes County School District. 


Lowndes has also witnessed upward trends in language arts and math in grades three through eight since the second edition of the Mississippi Curriculum Test was implemented in 2008. A press release states the district met Annual Yearly Progress, or AYP, requirements for language arts and math in all nine schools.  


AYP is based on the number of students scoring proficient and advanced. 


All districts report new programs are being implemented or carried over from last year to continue upward trends. Starkville and West Point schools have teamed with four other districts to implement a system which divides curriculum frameworks into appropriate teaching sequences so all teachers would teach the same major topics with common assessments. 


Starkville Superintendent Judy Couey says that initiative is one of several which were implemented last year and will see their first full year of use in 2010-2011. 


"We''re optimistic to see a lot of changes next year," she said. 


Couey reports Starkville''s overall district standing "appears to be the same" as 2009-2010 when the district ranked Academic Watch. However, two schools which were previously At Risk of Failure, Ward-Stewart Elementary and Armstrong Middle, have improved. Ward-Stewart logged the biggest increase in the district. 


"That was due to administrators, teachers, parents, you name it," she said of Armstrong. 


West Point Assistant Superintendent Robin Miles reported "improvement across the board" in her district. She said the district saw improvement in language arts but was most encouraged by more than half of high school students scoring proficient or advanced on the Algebra I Subject Area Test. 


"A couple of years ago algebra scores were very low, so from two years ago we''ve made great progress," she said. 


Oktibbeha Superintendent James Covington stated his district "had a better testing year than the 2008-2009 year. 


"What really stands out is we decreased our minimal. So that means more kids are basic, proficient or advanced." 


He said third grade made the biggest strides and reported zero fourth-graders scored minimal in math. 


West Oktibbeha Elementary, which ranked as Failing last year, also improved. At the high school level, Covington said the English II test scores showed a need with only 40 percent of students passing. 




State concerns 


State officials were concerned about the reading level of some students. 


Almost 50 percent of the state''s third-graders received high scores of proficient or advanced on the Mississippi Curriculum Test language arts section. That''s only a slight increase from 2009, when 47.5 percent of third-graders in the state scored advanced or proficient on the test. 


Deputy State Superintendent of Education Lynn House tells The Clarion-Ledger officials are concerned because the goal of the state Board of Education is to have all outgoing third-graders reading on grade level by 2020. 


Research shows that students who are unable to read by third grade are more likely to drop out of school later. 


Students in grades five through eight were given tests in mathematics and science. Forty-five percent of fifth-graders scored proficient and above in science, and 43 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient and above. 


Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham said he was pleased to see the incremental progress of students scoring proficient or higher. 


"Language Arts is showing slow but steady progress in grades three through seven," he said. 


High school students are assessed with the Subject Area Testing Program on four content areas: Algebra 1, Biology I, English 2 and U.S. History.  


The percentage of high school students who passed the English 2 test dipped slightly to 68 percent from 69 percent. The percentage of students to pass the Algebra 1 test rose to 79.6 percent from 72 percent. 


Students have to pass all four subject area tests and all their courses to graduate. 


The Algebra 1 and English 2 tests require students to be able to read questions and use critical thinking skills to derive an answer. 


The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment susan michael commented at 8/21/2010 4:39:00 PM:

This would have to be the best news in the media in quite a while! The teachers, administrators, parents, community, and ALL are coming to together for a common purpose, to increase the accountability testing scores. An increase in scores leads to stability in our economy and opportunity. The holistic approach seems to be the most significant in reaching positive results for all individuals in our area. While one town rivals the other in sports (for fun!) With academics we need to all come together and find the master key that fits for everybody. Even though the logic behind soome of our responsblilies may be difficult to fine, focus on expectations must be our objective as a TEAM effort. Giving+EDUCATION-REDUCE CRIME=JOBS


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