Scores encourage SP administration 9/2/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scores encourage SP administration

By Rupert Howell

 and Rita Howell

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Though local school districts will not know their “grades” until later this month, the test scores released last week by the Mississippi Department of Education give a general indication of progress for the South Panola School District, according to Tim Wilder, SP district superintendent.

“Based on preliminary findings, we feel good about the results the majority of our schools will receive,” he said.

The MDE assesses the annual standardized test scores and assigns a letter grade accountability rating to each individual school, with an overall grade for each district. Last year the South Panola district was assigned a “C” and the North Panola district, still under state conservatorship at the time, received a “D.”

Mississippi students in grades 3-8 each spring take the MCT2 test which covers language arts and math. In addition, those in third and eighth grade also take a science test.  

High school students are tested in four subjects: algebra, biology, U.S. history and English, and must pass all four in order to graduate. The results from the tests administered last spring were released last week.

“We showed significant gains across the board in all MCT2 areas,” Wilder said.

Making exceptional gains were the district’s fourth graders and seventh graders. In the language arts assessment, 66.1 percent of South Panola fourth graders scored “proficient or advanced,” 18.5 percent more than their counterparts the previous year. That group did even better in math, with 80.4 percent scoring “proficient or advanced,” a 22.6 percent improvement over the previous year.

Seventh grade students in the South Panola district showed improvement in both areas as well. In the language assessment, 68.8 percent of SP seventh graders  scored “proficient or advanced,” a 26 percent increase over last year. In math, 82.2 percent of the same group scored “proficient or advanced,” a 19.4 percent improvement.

At the high school level, local students continued to excel on the state algebra test, with 90 percent of South Panola students and 92 percent of North Panola students passing. Last year 89.9 percent of SP students and 86.5 of NP students passed the test.

In the most recent algebra assessment, 85 percent of the tested students from both districts scored at the level of proficient or above.

“We’re very pleased with the algebra results at the high school,” Wilder said.

South Panola High School students didn’t fare as well in other subject areas. In the biology test, 70 percent passed; in U.S. History, 73 percent passed; in English, 69 percent passed. In the 2013 testing, 67.7 percent of SP students passed the biology test; 77.6 percent passed the history test, and 72.8 percent passed the English test.

At North Panola High School, students made significant strides in the U.S. history test, with 80 percent passing, and 62 percent of those scoring proficient and above. In the biology test, 72 percent of NPHS students passed; in the English test, 64 percent passed.

Last year the school had 71 percent passing the history test; 78.1 percent passing biology and 62.3 percent passing English.

On the MCT2, North Panola’s fourth graders posted an improved percentage for proficient/advanced performance in language. Among that group, 54.1 percent scored proficient or advanced, a 22.3 percent increase over the previous year. In the math test, 57.2 percent of those students scored proficient or advanced, an 8.7 percent improvement over last year.

North Panola’s sixth and seventh graders showed moderate improvement, 5.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, in proficient/advanced scores on the language test. 

New North Panola Superintendent Cedric Richardson said North Panola High School made a lot of improvements according to the test results.

“They have really done well this year,” Richardson said.

He also added that Crenshaw has made some improvements, according to the tests results.

Asked to sum up the district’s current direction, the North Panola Superintendent stated, “I do think we have major challenges in preparing our students for Common Core curriculum and are adjusting to  go forward.” 

He further explained by “adjusting” he means, “Teaching instructional practices with Common Core coming up.”