State tests see upticks

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

More than half of Mississippi’s students scored in the top two categories on the state’s standardized tests this year for the first time in the new test’s four-year history.
The Mississippi Department of Education released results of the tests today. They were taken during the past school year by all third- to eighth-grade students and many high school students.
Those students can score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient or advanced on the tests.
Third- to eighth-graders take the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition, in math and language arts. That test was revamped during the 2007-08 school year in order to make it more difficult and more in line with national norms.
“I am pleased that we continue to make incremental progress in Language Arts,” said state Superintendent Tom Burnham in a press release. “…These results demonstrate that students will rise to our level of expectation. As we continue to expect more from our children, our children will excel.”
The number of students scoring at least proficient on the MCT-2 test rose on every test except fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade math and fifth-grade language, which each had declines of less than a percentage point.
High school students took state tests in algebra I, biology I, English II and U.S. history. They must pass these in order to graduate.
Statewide, 71.8 percent of students passed the English II test on their first attempt (an increase from 68.0 percent last year), while 85.4 percent passed algebra I (up from 79.6 percent) and 93 percent passed U.S. history (same rate as last year). The results of the state biology test, the first one to be based on the state’s new, more-demanding curriculum, are not currently available.
In Lee County, the district saw improvements on nine of the 15 tests its students took and was virtually even on another. While those gains were not as dramatic as the ones the district made last year, district officials were excited to see Lee County students maintain the growth they showed in the 2009-10 school year.
Tupelo students made improvements on eight of the 15 tests and were virtually even on another. That was more impressive, officials said, given the turmoil in the district last year.
More in-depth stories on those two districts are available inside. A deeper look at the scores of other schools in the region will appear in Sunday’s Daily Journal.
The results from the Mississippi Curriculum Test and from the algebra I, English II and U.S. history tests will be used to determine district and school accountability rankings to be announce later. The new biology test will not be used to determine rankings this year.
Students also take a writing test in fourth- and seventh-grade and after completing English II, and they take a science test in fifth- and eighth-grade. Those tests are not used to determine rankings.
The results of the science tests are not yet available.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.

See all scores from around NEMS in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.