August 16, 2018 11:10:13 AM
Mary Pollitz - [email protected]
Columbus Municipal School District students scored higher overall compared to last year during spring assessments.
The Mississippi Department of Education released the test scores Thursday for the 2017-18 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program testing. The test includes English-Language Arts (ELA) and math scores for grades 3-8, as well as Algebra I and English II for the high school and middle school levels.
The tests scores are separated into five levels. Students that fall into level 1 and 2 did not pass that state assessments, whereas levels 3, 4 and 5 show students who passed.
At CMSD, 49.2 percent of third graders scored in the bottom two levels of the ELA test.
More than 50 percent of students passed the ELA assessments in all grades except seventh grade -- where 59.8 percent of students did not pass. Columbus High School's English II test showed a 53.4 percent pass rate.
District-wide, more than 50 percent of students passed the ELA assessment in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth grades. This includes marked improvement at Fairview Elementary, where 75 percent of fourth graders passed the exam, compared to 61.3 percent failing in 2016-17.
Superintendent Cherie Labat, who took her position in June, said the results show CMSD is on a positive track forward.
"The great thing is, we've seen huge improvements throughout the district," Labat said. "I'm very happy where we are as a district. I think CMSD is going in the right direction to improve student achievement. We are laser focused on literacy. We've worked aggressively in the summer to make sure we are focusing on weaknesses as it relates to writing and making sure our teachers have the skills needed to improve those areas."
On math exams, CMSD students struggled similarly to 2016-17 but did show some improvements. District-wide, more than 50 percent of students passed the math assessments in the fifth and sixth grades as well as the Algebra I exam, whereas less than 50 percent of students passed in the third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades. Columbus Middle School had a 100 percent pass rate on the Algebra I test, while Columbus High School saw 74.2 percent pass.
"That was a very difficult goal situation for us to have the negative in math," Labat said. "We're working toward improving those goals. We're working on our math proficiency and our math professional development."
Labat said in hopes of increasing student proficiency, CMSD has incorporated new intensive curricula, literacy plans, continuation of K-12 accelerated reading, intervention programs for ELA and math and intends to implement coding education into elementary curriculum.
She said the exam results are a good indicator that CMSD's accountability rating -- which MDE bases largely on test scores -- will improve this year. CMSD is currently a D district, and new ratings are due in October.
CMSD currently has three campuses rated as Fs -- Franklin Academy, Cook Elementary and Columbus Middle School.
Lowndes County School District
Lowndes County School District continued its strong performance from years past in the 2017-18 test results.
More than 81 percent of the district's third graders passed the third grade ELA test, and the district maintained similar scores through English II, where 88 percent of students passed.
Highs in math included 79.1 percent of third graders passing and 89.8 percent passing the Algebra I exam.
More than 75 percent of students in each grade level passed the ELA assessment and only one grade level -- eighth -- had a less than a 70 percent pass rate on the math test.
Caledonia Elementary School specifically performed well in ELA, with 68.5 percent of fourth grade students scoring in the top two levels and only 12 percent landing in the bottom two levels.
Deputy Superintendent Robin Ballard said the success at LCSD is a product of a "well-oiled machine." Ballard said each teacher's mission is to meet each student and work throughout the school year.
"We just make sure we are holding everyone accountable and that everyone has the support and the materials and the training to do what they need to do to the best that they can do it," Ballard said.
Ballard said the district, which was 34 accountability points away from an A rating last year, is hopeful to achieve A rating accountability score this year.
"It's confirmation that what we're doing is right," Ballard said of the test scores. "It's confirmation that what we do, right here where we are, is good for kids and it's good for our community," Ballard said. "We want to be a shining star in this region and in the state."
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District showed improvement in nearly every state assessment last year.
On the third grade ELA test, 67.9 percent of the district's students passed, a trend that largely continued through the English II test with 67.2 percent passing.
In math, 68.4 percent of third grade students passed, which also trended throughout the district.
The outlier was in eighth grade math, where only 49.3 percent of students passed. Starkville High School and Armstrong Middle School showed a combined 76.9 percent of students pass the Algebra I test.
West Elementary School had 95.6 percent of third graders pass the math test, while no student scored in the bottom level. Similarly, in fourth grade West Elementary had each student receive passing grades in math.
The scores increased nearly across the board since last year, showing only slight decreases of pass rates in the third grade math, fifth grade ELA and English II.
"We have tried to be purposeful about not focusing on programs, but focusing on best practices that will grow all students across the board with math and ELA," Assistant Superintendent Christy Maulding said."One of the things that I believe that is most important in a successful school district is professional development and growth opportunities to keep teachers growing. With growth of our students, we are certainly not satisfied. We will continue to work and strive for excellence and to continue to double these numbers."
During Tuesday's SOCSD Board meeting, Maulding said she is excited about all proficiency growth within the district and has predicted an accountability score increase for SOCSD.
"We are happy to report that we believe, this is a draft nothing's official until we get all that back from MDE, we believe will see about a 104 point increase from last year to this year," Maulding said.
SOCSD is currently rated a C overall. Its only F-rated school is Henderson Ward Stewart, which houses grades 2-4.