Each year students in 2nd through 11th grades take subject area exams while elementary students are tested for proficiency in reading, language and math, those in high school are tested in algebra, biology, English, and American History. According to results released this week, scores from last year's testing show that overall, the Meridian Public School District improved with scores now about 2.9 points below the state average.
"This district is not only closing the gap," says Fred Wile who is president of the MPS school board. "It's reaching the state average from a point two years ago of being significantly below the state average."
It was just three years ago that the Meridian Public School District ranked 15 points below the state average. However, now with that number greatly reduced, district officials say some of the biggest gains were made at T.J. Harris Elementary, Carver Middle School, and Parkview Elementary which all improved their overall scores by at least 12 points within the last year.
As for the district's biggest disappointment, Superintendent Sylvia Autry says that would be in writing.
"We focused so hard on reading and language and math," says Autry, "that we somewhat neglected writing but the data has gotten our attention."
Autry says the data could be worse. Results show that the lag in writing scores showed up in three grades which all scored at or a tenth of a point below the state average in writing. However, district officials say still more must be done.
"The state average is not our end goal," says Wile. To be equal to one of the lowest states in the country, meeting the state's average needs to be just a mile marker on our way to excellence."
Scores from these tests are used to rank schools. Those rankings will be released next Thursday.
Last year, Mississippi was ranked near the bottom in national school testing.