Mississippi students across the state and the Coast scored better this year on state standardized tests compared to last year.
The 2018-19 school year was the fourth time students took Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests, which are given to students in high school and third through eighth grades.
There are five levels of achievement on the computerized tests: minimal, basic, passing, proficient and advanced. The state’s goal is to have 70% of students scoring proficient or advanced by 2020. The gains that students posted last year are not on pace to meet those goals in either English or math.
In English language arts, which tests reading and writing, 42% of students statewide scored at proficient or advanced levels. That’s up from 40% last year. Achievement jumped more in math, with 47% of students scoring proficient or higher, compared to 44% last year.
On the Coast, including the public schools in the lowest six counties, the average number of students scoring proficient or advanced increased from 47% to 49% in English and from 49% to 53% for math.
Levels 3-5 are considered passing, and the Coast had an average of 82% of students pass both English and math.
The percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced also affects accountability ratings for each school and district. Paula Vanderford, who oversees the state’s accountability system, told Board of Education members Thursday that proficiency increased in 18 of the 20 measurements that the state takes, falling only in English/language arts for sixth graders and in English II for high school students.
“Mississippi students are outpacing the nation in learning gains thanks to their hard work and the hard work of teachers, school staff, school leaders, and parents,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Education in Mississippi is part of our state’s success story.”
On Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Education also released test scores for fifth- and eighth-grade science and high school U.S. history and biology. However, the state could be doing away with the U.S. history exam after a state task force last week recommended dropping it to lessen the number of standardized tests that take up students’ time.
There were new science tests in 2018-19, and more than half of students in each tested subject and grade scored at Level 4 or 5 on the more rigorous assessments.
Top and bottom
Ocean Springs School District was the top-scoring district on the Coast. It was one of three statewide to rank in the top 10 for proficiency in all four subjects, along with Petal and Booneville. It was one of seven to rank in the top 10 for English and math, along with Petal, Booneville, Clinton, Enterprise, Oxford and Union County.
“We pride ourselves on being a school district where all students can succeed, whether you’ve been a Greyhound for 12 years or one year,” Superintendent Bonita Coleman said in a statement. “We will strive to continue to provide the best education possible to our growing student population.”
She also pointed out the district had a 15-point increase in fifth-grade mathematics.
The Yazoo County School District, which became part of Mississippi’s first Achievement School District in 2019-20, was the only district to rank in the bottom 10 for student proficiency in all four tested subjects
No Coast districts were among the eight districts to rank in the bottom 10 for student proficiency in both English and math: Amite County, Holmes County, Humphreys County, Jefferson County, Noxubee County, West Bolivar Consolidated, Wilkinson County and Yazoo County. Humphreys County and Yazoo City school districts became part of Mississippi’s first Achievement School District in 2019- 20.
Moss Point was again the lowest-scoring district on the Coast, but Superintendent Shannon Vincent said in a statement the district is showing growth and has reconfigured leadership to include additional support in math and English.
She said over the past three years, the number of students passing (Levels 1-3) has increased, but the goal is to move Level 3 scorers into the proficient and advanced levels, which are the only levels that improve the accountability rating. She said there are “pockets of growth” in grades four through 12.
“When we look at success, our Kindergarten scholars experienced the highest level of growth on the Coast and ranked amongst the top 20 in the state for growth,” she said. “Our English Language Learners, over 70% percent met their progress to proficiency goals on the state assessment.”
High school Algebra I
- Poplarville and Ocean Springs both had the highest passing rates at 98.4%, followed by Long Beach and Bay St. Louis-Waveland, with 96.5%.
- Pass Christian had the highest average score and proficiency rate at 80.5%.
- Pascagoula-Gautier had the lowest passing and proficiency rates, 77.6% and 31.4% respectively.
- Last year, Long Beach had highest passing rate at 97.1%, and Biloxi had the highest proficiency rate with 76.9%.
- Three middle schools had a 100% passing rate: Long Beach Middle, Ocean Springs Middle and Pearl River Central Junior High.
High school English
- Long Beach had the highest passing rate at 93.8%.
- Pass Christian had the highest average score and proficiency rate of 66.9%.
- Moss Point had the lowest passing and proficiency rates with 69.2% and 34.2%.
- Last year, Bay St. Louis-Waveland had the highest passing rate of 92%, and Ocean Springs had the highest proficiency rate of 68%.
- West Harrison High School had the second-highest passing rate at 91.8%. Ocean Springs had the second-highest proficiency rate at 66.6%.
3-8th grade math
- Ocean Springs had the highest average passing and proficiency rates of 89.8% and 67.2%.
- Moss Point had the lowest rates with an average of 51.4% of students passing and 17.8% students proficient.
- East Hancock Elementary School’s fifth graders had the highest scale score and proficiency rate in the state.
3-8th grade English Language Arts
- Stone County had the highest passing rate of 87.3%, and Ocean Springs had the highest proficiency rate of 56.4%.
- Moss Point had the lowest average passing and proficiency rates with 55.4% and 34.2% respectively.
To view the full results of Coast schools, click here to open the data in Google Sheets.
To view complete statewide results, click here to go to MDE’s website.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.