Most Natchez school test scores improve

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2003

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Test scores released by the state Department of Education show improvement at Natchez-Adams County Schools in most categories.

But local scores followed a statewide trend with the lowest scores occurring in seventh- and eighth-grade math.

Mississippi Curriculum Test scores from spring 2003 testing show a drop in the percentage of students at basic proficiency level or above in second-grade reading, eighth-grade language and seventh- and eighth-grade math.

There also was a drop in the percentage of students at proficient level or above in seventh and eighth grade math. The drop in percentage, however, was at the least 1 percent and at the most, 5 percent.

The percentage of second-grade math scores at the basic level of proficiency or above held steady.

All other percentages were higher than last year’s levels of proficiency, meaning there was more improvement than decline in the district. &uot;We have made some improvements,&uot; Anthony Morris, Natchez-Adams superintendent, said. &uot;We are not where we want to be, but we are proud of the fact we have made some improvements.&uot;

Another trend in the Natchez-Adams School District’s scores that mirrored the statewide data was that the lower grade levels generally had a higher percentage of proficiency in all subject areas than the older students, namely seventh and eighth graders.

Ironically, although the seventh- and eighth-grade math scores for the district were the lowest levels of proficiency, the second-grade math scores were the highest levels of proficiency for the district, with 75.8 percent of second graders at proficient level or above on the math curriculum test.

The MCT &uot;measures students according to our own Mississippi curriculum &045;&045; it doesn’t compare them to the nation,&uot; said Valerie Troiani, assistant director for student assessment for the state Department of Education. &uot;It measures how they’re mastering the skills and knowledge for their grade and content area,&uot; she said.

The state’s curriculum was devised by a group of educators from around the state, she said.

The score cards parents get back from their children’s schools show the proficiency level of the student in each subject area &045;&045; minimal, basic, proficient and advanced. &uot;When parents get their children’s scores, they get numeric scores, but we also tell them what it means,&uot; Troiani said.

These MCT scores along with the state’s subject area testing program scores &045;&045; testing high school students in Algebra I, U.S. History, Biology and English II &045;&045; will be the scores the districts will be held accountable for under state and federal accountability.

On Sept. 12, the state department will release these assessments of accountability on the state, district and school levels. The reports will measure the statewide accountability in achievement and growth and federal accountability measuring adequate yearly progress.

Earlier this month, at a press workshop on the &uot;No Child Left Behind&uot; act, Mississippi Superintendent of Education Henry Johnson said the state would use the numbers this year as a baseline for years to come and build from them, whether the numbers were good are bad, &uot;The data are what the data are.&uot;