Labat: CMSD test scores should continue to rise

September 5, 2018 10:56:29 AM

Mary Pollitz - [email protected]


The Mississippi Department of Education recognized Columbus Municipal School District as one of the most-improved districts for the English Language Arts state tests, and CMSD Superintendent Cherie Labat believes the district can continue that improvement twofold. 


The district had a 5.8 percent increase in proficiency in ELA this year. At a meeting of the Columbus Rotary Club Tuesday in Lion Hills Center, Labat said she hopes to have a nearly 44 percent proficiency in both math and ELA tests by the end of this year. 


"We continue on improving instruction, making sure I'm in the building and coaching principals and teachers and engaging with students. We are just staying focused on student achievement. Every decision in the best interest of students," Labat said, echoing the district's new motto. "There's no gray areas. It's just black and white. Either we're making the best decisions or we're not."  


Labat said it's important to meet each student and parent where they are. She added getting involved locally helps community involvement within the district. In fact, a few weeks ago, Labat said she met with numerous parents at one of Columbus' housing authority locations to discuss education.  


"All people want what's best for their children," Labat said. "We were able to talk about programs and information that they could use to help their children achieve more. ... We will continue to go in the community to meet with our parents to educate them." 


Labat said having a high level of academia helps create high-performing students.  


"Students rise to level of your expectations," Labat said. "We have rigorous grade-level instruction. We believe that students can learn at these high levels."  


The district's main goal is to create students who are not only college ready, but workforce and enlistment ready as well, Labat said. Seniors will now take the WorkKeys test, along with the ACT, before graduation. The WorkKeys test will be funded by The Golden Triangle Development LINK, district and federal funds.  


WorkKeys is a national assessment that measures an individual's work skills, including manufacturing skills.  


"Any parent wants their child to be able to go to college or the workforce," Labat said. "Them being able to take something with them, that's just a great accomplishment for the district."  


MDE is expected to release accountability scores this month, which ranks each school and district on an A-F rating. Early predictors show CMSD will increase its accountability by 15 points, which keep CMSD as a D district. With the increased testing scores, Labat said the correct steps are being taken to move the district forward.  


"We are progressing well toward moving the district to the next grade level on the accountability model," Labat said. "We appreciate the support of the community as we work diligently toward our goals. It is a team effort and everyone is on board. The Friendly City has been just that, welcoming, inviting and ready for a new day for CMSD."