Test results released as school year begins

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Lamar County and Lumberton school districts received their English Language Arts and Mathematics state test results for third grade through to high school students for the 2016-17 school year.

While accountability “grades” will not be released until October, the state tests are a component with the release of the district’s proficiency level for the past school year.

State test grades are given on five levels: minimal, basic, pass, proficient and advanced. Proficiency scores are the total of students who received proficient and advanced scores.

According to a news release from the Mississippi Department of Education, the 2016-17 MAAP results show overall proficiency increased in both English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics across the state.

About 33 percent of the Lamar County School District’s 784 third-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 8.9 percent earned advanced scores. Of the same students tested in mathematics, 34.5 percent scored proficient and 9.1 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 31.7 percent of fourth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 3.8 percent tested advanced out of 820 students tested. Around 31.7 percent scored proficient on the math test and 8.8 percent received advanced scores.

Around 35.4 percent of the 748 fifth-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 28.9 percent earned advanced scores. On the math test, 36.3 percent scored proficient and 15.7 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 30.7 percent of sixth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 26.8 percent tested advanced out of 740 students tested in ELA. In math, 39.6 percent scored proficient and 12.6 percent scored advanced.

Of the 746 seventh-grade students taking the ELA test, 26.9 percent scored proficient and 12.5 percent earned advanced scores. However, on the math test, 40.6 percent score proficient and 25.2 percent received advanced scores.

Approximately 31.2 percent of eighth-grade students taking the ELA test scored proficient and 13.4 percent scored advanced of the 749 students tested. On the math test, 33 percent scored advanced and 16.8 percent scored proficient.

Of the 751 high school students taking the English II test, 39.5 percent scored proficient and 12.5 percent scored advanced. With 701 students taking the Algebra I test, 44.9 percent scored proficient and 11.8 percent scored advanced.

In the Lumberton School District, about 18.3 percent of the 60 third-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 10 percent earned advanced scores. Of the same students tested in mathematics, 30 percent scored proficient and 10 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 13.2 percent of fourth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 1.9 percent tested advanced out of 53 students tested. Around 9,4 percent scored proficient on the math test and 3.8 percent received advanced scores.

Around 16.7 percent of the 54 fifth-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 1.9 percent earned advanced scores. On the math test, 9.3 percent scored proficient and 1.9 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 17.1 percent of sixth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 6.1 percent tested advanced out of 35 students tested in ELA. In math, 17.1 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

Of the 35 seventh-grade students taking the ELA test, 11.4 percent scored proficient and 5.7 percent earned advanced scores. However, on the math test, 25.7 percent score proficient and 2.9 percent received advanced scores.

Approximately 23.1 percent of eighth-grade students taking the ELA test scored proficient and 2.6 percent scored advanced of the 39 students tested. On the math test, 30.8 percent scored advanced and 2.6 percent scored proficient.

Of the 53 high school students taking the English II test, 30.2 percent scored proficient and 3.8 percent scored advanced. With 83 students taking the Algebra I test, 8.4 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

MDE’s accountability system grades schools on an A-F scale. The accountability testing model totals 1,000 points split among 11 categories, including reading proficiency, reading growth, reading growth above 25 percent, math proficiency, math growth, math growth above 25 percent, science proficiency, U.S. history proficiency, graduation rate, college and career readiness and acceleration.

However, change could be coming for the accountability grades that are given to school districts each year. The 2016-17 accountability grades will be released in October.

The Commission on School Accreditation voted Wednesday to recommend that the Mississippi State Board of Education establish a new baseline for assigning school and district letter grades for the 2016-17 school year.

According to a news release from the Mississippi Department of Education, CSA based its decision on the unanimous recommendation of the statewide Accountability Task Force and the Mississippi Department of Education’s Technical Advisory Committee.

The three groups agreed that a new baseline is needed to correct artificially high growth rates included in the 2015-16 accountability grades.

“If we don’t make this change now, school and district grades this year and in the future will not give a true picture of their performance,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education in the news release. “The MDE needed two years of results from the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program to conduct an analysis of the data and to establish a stable baseline.”

After the release of the 2015-16 accountability results, some districts raised concerns that their growth rates were abnormally high and could not be sustained over subsequent years. The growth rates were based on multiple assessment programs that were administered over a multi-year period.

According to MDE, the 2016-17 accountability grades include a measure of growth that is based on students taking the MAAP tests for two years in a row, which would be the first year with MAAP to MAAP results in which growth is measured with the same assessments and is accurately portrayed. This is the reason that a new baseline must be established.

The CSA recommended the SBE use the percentile ranks it approved in 2016 to once again set the 2017 cut scores. These percentile ranks will remain consistent for 2017; only the numerical value of the cut score will change.

This would mean that in 2018 and after, the 2017 cuts scores will continue to be used for grade assignment.

“Without the new baseline, the accountability results that would have been produced would reflect the unexpected and unrealistic circumstance where results declined, despite other components improving and increases in proficiency across the state,” Domaleski said. “With the exception of growth, all components of the accountability system are performing as expected.”