Mississippi Increases Graduation Rate, Scores Improve

Lauderdale County, Miss. State test scores for Mississippi were released Thursday. Students are showing improvement.

State officials say they saw gains on both the Mississippi Curriculum Test and Subject Area Tests.

The Department of Education also announced a four-year graduation rate of just over 75 percent, the highest rate since 2007, and a three percent decrease in the dropout rate from last year. Here locally, results were a little more mixed.

Although the QDI scores for our local districts are not available until next month, the Meridian School District has released proficiency levels.

"When we take state tests, they grade our students based on four levels, if they scored minimal, basic, proficient and advanced," said superintendent, Dr. Alvin Taylor.

The district has not had much of a jump from the 2011 - 2012 year, but there has been a significant improvement in scores since 2010. While the district is behind the state on these scores, they are showing a much faster growth rate: nine-point-six percent as compared to the state's six-point-five percent growth.

"Obviously, we're not happy with being behind the state," said Taylor. "But if you're in a race and you're behind, you have to run faster than the person ahead of you, and right now we are running faster than the state is."

Lauderdale County School District superintendent, Randy Hodges, says improvements reflect the staff's concern for each individual student.

"Our principals know the students. They know them by name," said Hodges. "They know what their strengths and weaknesses may be, and I think that's so important. So we can move individual students forward and our overall district scores are going to be better because of that."

The faculty and staff analyze scores to see how they can improve performance in each individual class.

Algebra I had the highest passing rate at 85 percent, but English II had the lowest at just 73 percent. Administrators say improving reading and writing skills will be a big focus on this year's school agenda.

"We're taking reading and writing to a whole new level this school year," Hodges said.

Click the links below to search for individual districts and to see statewide comparisons to the past two years.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education,
more students scored proficient and advanced at every grade level on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2) and on the Subject Area Testing Program, Second Edition (SATP2).

"The assessment results are the product of hard work by students and teachers across the state under more rigorous standards," said interim state superintendent, Dr. Lynn House. "While we are pleased with the overall growth in academic performance, we know that some of our schools are still struggling. We are implementing initiatives and working with districts to help students as we continue to move Mississippi to standards that will better prepare them for post-secondary education and the workforce."

House also said the lower dropout rate and higher graduation rates prove that districts are working to encourage students to stay in school, and they are focusing on attendance and targeting students at risk of dropping out.

The MCT2 is given to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and math. The MDES says assessments show that every grade made improvements on the state tests in English language arts. In math, grades 6 and 8 remained level in performance from last year but other grades saw scores increase.

The SATP2 tests students in Algebra I, Biology I, U.S. History and English II:

Algebra I: 85 percent passing
Biology I: 79 percent passing
English II: 73 percent passing
U.S. History: 81 percent passing

High school students must earn a passing score on each test to be eligible for graduation.