Tupelo sees strong test gains

Dewon Williams, 9, and the rest of his third grade class at Rankin Elementary take turns working problems is a more relaxed environment. (Thomas Wells | Daily Journal)

Dewon Williams, 9, and the rest of his third grade class at Rankin Elementary take turns working problems is a more relaxed environment. (Thomas Wells | Daily Journal)

By Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District again made strong gains on its state tests.

The number of students scoring in the top two categories on those exams improved on all 17 tests also taken the year before. Those gains come after the district also had large growth the previous year.

“We are seeing significant gains across all grades,” Superintendent Gearl Loden said.

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 today by the Mississippi Department of Education. They will be used to determine district and school rankings, from A-F, which will be announced on Sept. 13.

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

More than 69 percent of Tupelo third- to fifth-graders scored at least proficient on each of their language arts and math exams. The strongest showing was in fourth-grade math, in which 85.2 percent of students were proficient or advanced.

More than 78 percent did so in third-grade math.

“There is a lot of celebrating at the elementary level, especially with the third- to fifth-grade schools, and that connects to their K-2 feeder schools,” Loden said. “There were great gains at the third- to fifth-grade level, and each of them is strong academically.”

All of the third- to fifth-grade schools made individual gains. Rankin Elementary improved its portion of students scoring at least proficient on both fifth-grade tests by nearly 20 percentage points each. With those gains, 75.6 percent of students reached that mark in fifth-grade math and 67.6 percent did so in fifth-grade language. Pierce Street improved its fourth-grade math by more than 18 percentage points (89 percent were at least proficient) and Lawndale did so by more than 16 percentage points (78.6).

Rankin also saw 93.3 percent of its students score at least proficient in fourth-grade math, and Lawhon had 79.8 percent do so.

Also seeing great gains was Tupelo High School. More than 88 percent of students scored at least proficient on the algebra test, and 80.4 percent did so on biology. Both represented gains of at least 20 percentage points. Meanwhile, 71.2 percent of students did so on U.S. history and 69.6 percent on English II, both about 10 percentage points above the state average.
Milam Elementary and Tupelo Middle School also made gains on their tests.

Tupelo’s fifth- and eighth-grade science scores also exceeded the state average.

Loden credited teachers for the gains and also noted the district’s focus on bell-to-bell instruction and the work it has put into developing its curriculum and periodic common assessments that match the rigor of state tests.

“You can always find nuggets and look for continual improvement,” he said. “…We will continue to work on our plan. There will be areas we’ll fine-tune.”

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

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