MPSD Test Preparation

Meridian, Miss. More efforts are being made to improve state test scores within the Meridian Public School District. In all, three of the district's thirteen schools received a failing grade on state testing last year.

Those schools were: Carver Middle, Parkview Elementary and Crestwood Elementary.

According to data from regular assessment tests, district officials are confident that the results will be different this year.

"I think we're in good shape towards moving out of having failing schools," says MPSD assistant superintendent of curriculum, Robin Miles. "We're close enough based on our data right now that we should be able to end the year, and start the next year with no failing schools. And that's our goal right now."

A key part of the strategy to improve test scores at failing schools has been the hiring of instructional specialists.

"Before we had consultants who would only be in the district for a couple of months, but these people are there every single day," says Carver Middle School principal, Tiffany Plott.

"These were classroom teachers within our district," says Miles. "They had a proven track record of student performance. So, they have come in and they're in the classrooms daily. They model for teachers; they provide resources for them. They give them someone to talk to. They work with students if they need to do that."

Last month the Mississippi Board of Education voted to change the accountability model, or grading scale, for state testing for schools.

Although making these type changes mid-year can create some challenges, officials with the Meridian Public School District say that their schools have been, and continue to be, prepared to pass state tests this year.

"At Carver we were so far behind when we started that it has taken us a few years, but we've gained on an average about 10 points every year. And if we can get ten points this year we will be above that failing mark," says Plott.

"We're making improvements. Y'all hang in there because the best is yet to come," says Miles.

When the current superintendent took over the district three years ago, seven Meridian schools were rated as failing. Each year that number continues to drop. In all, there are 13 schools within the Meridian Public School District. This includes: seven elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school, one vocational center and one alternative school.