Board members: Too early to tell meaning of test scores

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 6, 2000

Local officials say they need more information before they can decide what this year’s standardized test scores mean to the Natchez-Adams School District.

School Board Member Don Marion said he had not seen this year’s results but said the scores are a good comparison tool.

&uot;It’s a measure that compares you with other districts and gives you a chance to see where you stack up with other districts across the state,&uot; Marion said.

Email newsletter signup

But districts also need to look at other factors, such as if students are passing their regular course work, Marion said.

During state testing in May, Natchez students fell slightly below the state and national averages but scores where comparable to results in earlier years. The scores were released this week.

The scores are important because they factor into the state’s accreditation system, Marion said.

The state’s districts are placed on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.

The test scores are a major component in the ranking. The Natchez-Adams School District is a level three district – the lowest ranking a district can receive and still be considered successful.

Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith also said he had not seen this year’s scores but views a school district as necessary for economic development.

&uot;There’s not doubt about it, folks want a well-trained workforce.&uot; Smith said. &uot;They look at that when considering an area.&uot;

Natchez schools such as Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Alcorn provide job training but Smith thinks the learning must start earlier.

&uot;You got to have the basic education skills in high school before you really get to that point,&uot; Smith said.

But Smith does not think Natchez’s public education system keeps perspective industries from moving to the area.

&uot;That may be one part of the formulas they look at, but I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a turnoff,&uot; he said.

Winnie Kaiser, community development director for the Natchez-Adams Economic Development Authority agrees area schools, primary and secondary, are one of the top items companies research before moving to an area.

&uot;(Companies) are going to look at your workforce,&uot; Kaiser said.

Employees also evaluate the school district for their children, but whether companies consider the Natchez district as a negative depends on perspective, she said.

&uot;If you’re a parent or a person who knows the education system and know your child – no, it’s not going to be a negative,&uot; Kaiser said.

School Board President Kenneth&160;Taylor said he would like to compare this year’s scores with previous years.

&uot;It’s always good news if you maintain the level that your on, but it’s always better news if you improve,&uot; Taylor said.

Taylor said he would need more information before he could speak to this year’s test results.

&uot;The test scores are an indicator of a student’s basic ability for reading, writing and mathematics,&uot; he said.

Virginia Salmon, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisor, thinks schools need to have high expectations for students if they want better test scores.

&uot;I think we need to elevate our standards and I think we need to expect more,&uot; she said. &uot;I am really all for education and I am really all for improving the standards.&uot;

She also thinks quality teaching is important.

&uot;If there is not a teacher of high standard before a class, you can not expect a whole lot from that class,&uot; said Salmon,adding that the basis of quality often comes from the home.

And a good education is important because corporate American wants to hire people with ability, Salmon said.

Mary Kate Garvin, assistant superintendent for the district, described this year’s test results as &uot;indicative of the entire state,&uot;

To help improve scores, district officials want to focus on improving classroom instruction, exit-skills, math application and helping students become better test-takers, she said.