School Grades Analyzed

Test scores for Mississippi's public schools released Friday show improvement in almost every subject and grade level, but education officials say the improvement may not be enough for hundreds of schools under the new "No Child Left Behind" law.

The new federal law requires proficiency among nine categories of students. If any one group of student falls short when report cards are released in September, the whole school or district will fail. The schools will also be held accountable under new state standards.

In September, schools will be held accountable for the scores under the new standards.

Locally, some of the news was good and some was bad. For instance, with Lauderdale County Schools, Superintendent David Little said there's not much change from last year's scores. Most were at or above the state average.

"Clarkdale and West Lauderdale scored real high, real well," said Little. "Northeast and Southeast scored pretty well."

However, he says special emphasis will be placed on Southeast Elementary School, which rated below the state average in eight out of the nine tested areas.

Meridian superintendent Sylvia Autry said scores lagged at Parkview Elementary, and for Algebra I and Biology I students at Meridian High. The two schools that made the most gains were Witherspoon and Crestwood Elementaries.

Witherspoon's third grade scores ranked as one of the top ten worst in the state, according to a listing in the Clarion Ledger newspaper.

"But that's one component. There were too many students in 3rd grade reading who scored at minimal, but their gain otherwise is very significant and you're going to see that Witherspoon moves up multiple levels," Autry said.

By moving up, Autry is referring to Sept. 12 when state schools' accreditation levels are released.

Autry met with education consultants from Tupelo Friday. At the Meridian School Board meeting Monday, Autry says she plans to ask for approval for this group to go into each Meridian school, do an evaluation and come up with a plan on how to improve test scores.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.