With few exceptions, South Mississippi school districts outperformed the state average in every grade in the first year of Mississippi Assessment Program testing.
Several districts also earned scores that put them at the top of the class across the state. Still, test results for grades 3 to 8 in both English and math showed room for improvement.
“The MAP measures students’ progress toward higher academic goals that equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in jobs and college,” the Mississippi Department of Education said.
The tests were given at the end of the 2015-16 school year to third- through eighth-grade students in English language arts and math, as well as to high school students in English II and Algebra I.
MAP scores are ranked on five levels. Level 1 is the lowest-scoring category and level 5 is the highest. Levels 3-5 are considered passing grades.
In high school English II, the Pass Christian School District had more advanced-level students than any district in the state, with 21 percent of test takers scoring in level 5. Long Beach and Ocean Springs students were close behind at 18.8 percent and 17.9 percent, respectively.
Those three districts were among the top five in the state with the highest percentage of level 5 test results.
The top five districts in South Mississippi with passing marks — Levels 3-5 — were Long Beach with 92.3 percent, Ocean Springs with 88.8 percent, Pass Christian with 85.8 percent, Gulfport with 85.2 percent and Hancock County with 83.4 percent. The state average for English II passing scores was 67.2 percent.
In high school Algebra I, those three districts also topped South Mississippi. Pass Christian had 90.8 percent of students passing, Gulfport had 87.8 percent and Ocean Springs 85.7 percent.
“Teachers are focusing on instruction that meets the standards, and we’re seeing the results,” state Superintendent Carey Wright said in a press release. “I am proud of the hard work happening in classrooms across the state as teachers and administrators work to prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need for successful futures.
“The results identify where students are doing well and where they need additional support in order to meet grade-level expectations.”
Pass Christian eighth-graders came out on top of all Coast schools with 85 percent scoring passing marks in English language arts.
In math, 86 percent of Ocean Springs seventh-graders earned passing marks, the highest passing percentage of any South Mississippi school district in Grades 3-8 math testing.
A few individual grade highlights:
▪ Gulfport third-graders excelled in math testing with 18.7 percent of students in Level 5, far surpassing the state average of 7.2 percent. Jackson County third-graders were close behind with 16.1 percent.
▪ Notably among fifth-grade math test takers, Pass Christian and Biloxi had among the lowest percentage of students in Level 1. Just 0.7 percent of Pass Christian fifth-graders and 1.4 percent of Biloxi fifth-graders scored in the lowest category.
▪ Biloxi School District eighth-graders beat out all other South Mississippi schools with 17.8 percent earning level 5 marks in math. Only one other school district in the state had a higher percentage of students in that category, Booneville School District.
▪ On the other end of the spectrum, Pascagoula-Gautier School District test results for Grades 4-7 all fell below the state averages for passing grades in math.
▪ Picayune fell below the state average in algebra and in four of six grades in English language arts and math.
Moss Point has long been the lowest-scoring district on the Coast, and the 2015-16 school year was no different.
It fell below the state average in every testing category, the only one of 14 South Mississippi districts to do so.
Only 33.3 percent of students passed the high school algebra test, compared with a 64.5 percent state average. It also had the highest percentage of students in the state in the lowest level.
Just 41.4 percent passed the high school English test, compared with the 67.2 percent state average.
For math testing in third through eighth grades, less than half of students in four grades had passing grades.
Of the six grades tested, less than half of Moss Point students in grades three to eight scored passing grades on the English Language Arts test.
Superintendent Shannon Vincent is in her second year at Moss Point, and this year’s MAP scores re-emphasize the scope of her challenge.
The district hired four new principals for the 2016-17 school year and all have experience in teaching reading comprehension.
Level 1: Minimal — Student inconsistently demonstrates the knowledge or skills that define basic-level performance.
Level 2: Basic — Student demonstrates partial mastery of the knowledge and skills in the course and may experience difficulty in the next grade or course in the content area.
Level 3: Passing — Student demonstrates general mastery of the knowledge and skills required for success in the grade or course in the content area. Student is able to perform approaching or at the level of difficulty, complexity, or fluency specified by the grade-level content standards.
Level 4: Proficient — Student demonstrates solid academic performance and mastery of the knowledge and skills required for success in the grade or course in the content area.
Level 5: Advanced — Student consistently performs in a manner clearly beyond that required to be successful in the grade or course in the content area.