Lee County scores rise

Jerrion Smith helps her Verona Elementary students get a better understanding of math and other courses with more small group teaching. (Thomas Wells | Daily Journal)

Jerrion Smith helps her Verona Elementary students get a better understanding of math and other courses with more small group teaching. (Thomas Wells | Daily Journal)

By Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Lee County School District improved on most of this year’s state tests, including large growth at Verona Elementary.

The district improved its percentage of students scoring in the top two categories on 14 of the 17 tests taken last year. Verona, meanwhile, improved on all four of its tests, including gains of at least 20 percentage points on three of the four.

“Overall, I’m pleased,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks, noting the work of teachers and students. “We’ve seen quite a bit of improvement.”

Third- to eighth-grade students took the Mississippi Curriculum Test, second edition, in language arts and math last spring, and fifth- and eighth-graders also took a science test. High school students take a test after completing Algebra I, English II, U.S. history and biology.

The results of those tests were released this morning by the Mississippi Department of Education. They will be used to determine district and school rankings, A-F, which will be released Sept. 13.

Test-takers score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient and advanced.

Among the district’s best scores were third- and eighth-grade math, as more than 74 percent of students scored at least proficient on each. Also, 87.2 percent of the students scored proficient or advanced on the algebra test.

“We are making progress as whole,” said Lee County testing coordinator Debbie Jones.

Federal programs director Casey Dye said the district focused on six tests it wanted to improve and did so on five of them: third-grade language, fourth-grade language, fifth-grade math, sixth-grade math and English 2. The one that did not improve was sixth-grade language, which fell two points to 52.4 percent.

“It was good we saw improvement in the areas we needed,” Dye said.

Test-takers score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient and advanced.

Verona Principal Temeka Shannon credited the school’s use of data to focus on areas where students most needed help. She also credited Assistant Principal Paulette Agnew.

Weeks noted efforts by the Mississippi Department of Education, which sent a team of consultants to the school throughout the year to help it improve. The school also did a good job of maintaining its focus, he said.

“Across the board, they knocked the top off,” Weeks said.

Saltillo Elementary also had steady gains, including double-digit increases in fourth-grade math and fifth-grade language and math.

Mooreville Elementary’s fourth-grade math scores rose by more than 17 points to 82 percent, and Shannon Middle had more than 72 percent of its students score proficient or better in eighth-grade math.

Plantersville Middle, however, saw large declines in fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade math. Only 10.5 percent of fifth-graders were proficient or better in math, and only about 35 percent hit that mark in sixth and seventh grades.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

See more including charts of scores of all schools in Northeast Mississippi region in today’s Daily Journal newspaper.