By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District made significant gains on its state test scores this year.
The number of students scoring in the top two categories on those tests improved on nearly every examination, with some schools and grade levels making double-digit gains.
“The teachers across the district have lots of things to be proud of based on these scores,” said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden. “The community will be proud of the gains we’ve made in our district and should be proud of the people who worked in our district last year. There are always areas you can improve but we have lots of areas to celebrate.”
Results from those tests will be used to determine the district’s rating from the Mississippi Department of Education, which places schools and districts in seven levels based on how their students perform.
Tupelo is currently ranked Academic Watch, the fourth of seven levels, but that ranking is expected to improve this year.
The MDE will release the new levels in mid-September.
Elementary students took the Mississippi Curriculum Test, second edition, in language arts and math, and high school students take Subject Area Tests in algebra I, biology, U.S. history and English II.
Students on each test can score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient and advanced. Tupelo improved its percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced on 11 of the 12 elementary and middle-school tests.
The only decline was eighth-grade math, which fell slightly from 67.6 percent to 65.2 Meanwhile, eight tests improved by at least five percentage points, with fourth-grade math rising by 17.5 percentage points. Nearly 73 percent of students who took that test scored in the top two categories.
Loden credited the work done last year by then-Interim Superintendent David Meadows and the rest of the district’s educators. He said efforts by teachers during the summer of 2011 to write curriculum documents and various guides to help teachers made a difference, as did Meadows’ focus on the first 20 days of the school year.
Tupelo High School decreased its English II score, with only 55 percent of students scoring in the top two levels after 79.4 percent did so the year before. About 50 percent of students were proficient in biology.
Loden said plans were in place to address both subjects.
All four third- to fifth-grade schools improved, with Rankin and Pierce Street seeing several double-digit percentage point gains.
Test score charts in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.