August 24, 2009 10:43:00 AM
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.