Mississippi students improve scores on statewide tests
Published 9:13 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019
Mississippi students fared better on the state’s standardized tests during the last school year, although gains in math continued to outstrip gains in English and language arts.
The results, released Thursday by the Mississippi Department of Education , are from last spring’s Mississippi Academic Assessment Program. It’s the fourth time the state has given those tests to students in grades 3-8 and high school.
State Superintendent Carey Wright praised the trends as “part of our state’s success story.”
There are five levels of achievement on the computerized tests: minimal, basic, passing, proficient and advanced. In English/language arts which tests reading and writing, 42% of students scored at proficient or advanced levels. That’s up from 40% last year. Achievement jumped more in math, with 47% of students scoring proficient or higher, compared to 44% last year.
The state has set a goal of 70% proficiency for all students by 2025. The gains that students posted last year are not on pace to meet those goals in either English/language arts or math. No figures for subgroups such as African American students, special education students, economically disadvantaged students or students learning English will be available until September. The state is trying to narrow achievement gaps in all those groups.
Mississippi also got results from new science tests, with 55% of students proficient or advanced on the tests, given in fifth and eighth grades, as well as to students finishing high school biology.
Paula Vanderford, who oversees the state’s accountability system, told Board of Education members that proficiency increased in 18 of the 20 measurements that the state takes, falling only in English/language arts for sixth graders and in English II for high school students.
“Kids live up to expectations,” said board chair Jason Dean of Madison. “You raise the expectations, they respond, and this is a very clear indication of that.”
Booneville, Ocean Springs and Petal were among the 10 highest scoring districts in each of English/language arts, math, history and science. Clinton, Enterprise, Madison County, Oxford and Union County were in the top 10 for three of four subjects.
The Yazoo City school district, which the state earlier this year took into its achievement school district in an effort to improve academics, was among the lowest 10 scoring districts in all categories. Other districts often in the bottom 10 include Holmes County, Humphreys County, Jefferson County, Noxubee County, West Bolivar and Wilkinson County. Humphreys and Noxubee are also under state control.
Of the state’s three charter schools that recorded test results last year, Midtown Public Charter School continued to generally score below the averages of the state and Jackson school district, where it is located. Reimagine Prep and Joel A. Smilow Prep recorded more mixed results, sometimes exceeding the Jackson district’s average and approaching state averages.