Columbus, Lowndes schools test worse than state average

August 22, 2009 10:48:00 PM

Kristin Mamrack -


Mississippi Curriculum Testing and Subject Area Test Program results show Columbus Municipal School District and Lowndes County School District students testing behind state averages. 


But test results also show some gains in the districts'' scores over last year. 






CMSD had a lower percentage of students -- grades three through eight -- test at proficient or advanced levels in language arts and mathematics than the average for third- through eighth-graders throughout the state, according to recently released MCT2 results. 


In some areas, less CMSD students tested at proficient or advanced levels than last year, but in other areas, CMSD students scored better than last year, with higher percentages testing at proficient or advanced levels. 


In Language Arts, third-, fourth-, and fifth- graders did not test at proficient or advanced levels as often as in the previous school year, but more sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders tested at proficient levels than last year and more seventh-graders tested at advanced levels. 


Additionally, CMSD students saw gains in mathematics testing over last year''s scores for third- through eighth-graders testing at proficient or advanced levels in mathematics. 


"All the stake holders, from the superintendent to the students, anxiously await the arrival of test scores each year," said CMSD Testing Coordinator Dr. Myra Gillis. "This year is no exception. After analyzing the scores, we''ve determined that we have some very positive momentum happening in our district. For example, students in seventh grade Language Arts made a 12-percentage point gain in number of students scoring Proficient and Advanced over the previous year''s scores. Cook fourth grade Math increased the percentage of students scoring Proficient and Advanced by more than 20 percentage points.  


"In other areas we''ve experienced some declines that are causing us to revisit the curriculum and the teaching strategies in search of a more effective way to deliver instruction," she continued. "Principals and teachers are meeting and disaggregating the data in a quest to make the necessary adjustments to position our students for greater success. Mississippi has raised the bar and it''s going to take all of our best efforts to continue to increase student performance and overcome the deficiencies that might be hindering student success."  


In LCSD, a higher percentage of third- through fifth-graders tested at proficient or advanced levels in language arts and mathematics than the state average. 


But LCSD sixth- through eighth-graders tended to fall behind the state''s average for proficient or advanced levels. 


Considering last year''s scores, higher percentages of LCSD third-, fourth- and fifth-graders tested at proficient or advanced levels in Language Arts and Mathematics than before, with the exception of eighth grade students who tested at lower math levels than previously. 


"We feel that our principals, teachers and staff work hard at preparing our students for MCT2," said LCSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Peggy Rogers. "When we compare this year''s average to last year''s, we showed a significant growth. We believe our extensive remediation and research-based programs have a lot to do with our growth." 






SATP results show CMSD students behind the state average for students passing in all four subject areas -- algebra, history, biology and English -- and LCSD students behind in two areas, algebra and biology. LCSD was ahead of the state average for English and history. 


The results of CMSD high school students SATP tests show 53.7 passed in algebra, as opposed to 54 percent last year. 


In U.S. history, 95.3 passed this year and 93.4 passed in the 2008/2009 school year; in biology, 81 percent passed this year, compared to only 75.6 percent in 2008/2009 and, in English, 53.1 percent passed this year, as opposed to 59.5 percent last year. 


CMSD officials noted the improvement in history and biology test results, as well as the gains shown by all tests. 


"We are excited and encouraged about our recent student performance on the statewide accountability measures," said CMSD Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips. "Our teachers, students, administrators, and parents are committed to making positive gains each year. Student achievement is our priority, and I believe these results indicate that our district is moving in the right direction." 


The results of LCSD high school students'' SATP tests show the same percentage of students -- 58.4 -- passed algebra as last year, 99.4 percent passed U.S. History --compared to 95.8 in 2008/2009 -- and 84.6 percent passed biology, as opposed to 84.5 percent who passed last year. 


Only 66.9 percent passed English, but 69.7 percent passed in the 2008/2009 school year.