By Joseph McCain
The Winston County Journal
With state and district state scores recently released, students in the Louisville Municipal School District are showing improvement and propelling the schools and district forward.
Like the state scores LMSD students had gains on both the Mississippi Curriculum Test and Subject Area Tests.
The Department of Education also announced a four-year graduation rate of just over 75 percent, the highest rate since 2007, and a three percent decrease in the dropout rate from last year. Here locally, results were positive as well. Nanih Waiya earned an 85.8 percent graduation rate, Noxapater an 84.3 percent graduation rate and LHS received a 66.1 percent graduation rate.
Although the QDI scores and school rating for the local district or schools will not be available until next month (the Winston County Journal will have a full article on those ratings when released), the Louisville School District has released proficiency levels.
“When we take state tests, they grade our students based on four levels, if they scored minimal, basic, proficient and advanced,” said superintendent, Ken McMullan.
The district had improvements in almost all areas tested with significant improvements in several scores over last year.
McMullan noted that improvements in the scores, graduation rates reflect the staff’s concern for each individual student.
“Our principals and teachers know the students and the data,” said McMullan.
McMullan illustrated that David Luke, the principal at Nanih Waiya, has shown gradual increase every year because he knows the data and works with the teachers to know the students’ strengths and weaknesses from the data.
“Teachers can move individual students forward when they know their weaknesses and work with them,” added McMullan.
McMullan noted that the faculty and staff from the central office down to the teacher in the classroom examine the scores to see how they can improve performance for each individual class.
For the high school students, Algebra I had the highest passing rate at 75 percent district wide, but English II had the lowest at just 68.8 percent district wide. LHS had a 70.7 percent passing rate in Algebra I while Nanih Waiya had a 88 percent passing rate and Noxapater had a 82.6 percent. In English, LHS had a 57.9 percent; Nanih Waiya had a 83.3 percent passing rate and Noxapater had the highest passing rate at 87.5
McMullan noted that improving reading and writing skills is a big focus on this year’s school agenda.
“We’re taking reading and writing to a whole new level this school year,” McMullan said.
With that focus, McMullan noted working on those key skills in the earlier grades is crucial to building up the students successes on the tests each year.
“We are getting too many students at LHS who are not reading at a proficient level,” said McMullan. “and reading is key to all the subject area tests.”
LHS did have an increase on all scores this last year and McMullan noted that the staff and faculty at LHS are working to continue that forward movement.
To build for the future, McMullan also has a focus on Eiland, LES and Fair Elementary.
At Eiland, McMullan noted that the key ingredient to the school’s increases was related to its strong math scores. McMullan credited the use of a math consultant last year at Eiland for its 30 point jump in scores in 8th grade math. McMullan noted that the consultant helped the teachers be on target for rigor and testing.
He added that while excited about Eiland’s scores last year that the almost 2/3 of the staff new to the building at Eiland it will be a challenging year.
McMullan noted that while Language Arts should improvements in almost all grade levels tested that the district would continue to work on that area with interventists for k-4th grade provided by the recently received DREAM grant see full article in today’s edition.
According to the Mississippi Department of Education, more students scored proficient and advanced at every grade level on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2) and on the Subject Area Testing Program, Second Edition (SATP2).
“The assessment results are the product of hard work by students and teachers across the state under more rigorous standards,” said interim state superintendent, Dr. Lynn House. “While we are pleased with the overall growth in academic performance, we know that some of our schools are still struggling. We are implementing initiatives and working with districts to help students as we continue to move Mississippi to standards that will better prepare them for post-secondary education and the workforce.”
House also said the lower dropout rate and higher graduation rates prove that districts are working to encourage students to stay in school, and they are focusing on attendance and targeting students at risk of dropping out.
The MCT2 is given to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and math. The MDES says assessments show that every grade made improvements on the state tests in English language arts. In math, grades 6 and 8 remained level in performance from last year but other grades saw scores increase.
High school students must earn a passing score on each test to be eligible for graduation. The test results represent first-time test takers. Students generally have up to three opportunities each year to earn a passing score on the SAPT2 exams during high school.
The assessment results will help determine performance classifications for schools and districts using the State’s accountability model. Schools will be classified from highest to lowest, A-F. The 2013 school and district performance classifications will be released Sept. 13 following Mississippi Board of Education approval of the results. (A full article with scores and ratings will be in the following Journal.)