Petal leads districts in state testing results

Petal leads districts in state testing results
Comparison of grade-level results from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Source: Mississippi Department of Education.
The rescheduled test date will be posted at www.actstudent.org. Registered examiners will receive official notification from ACT.  (Photo source: WDAM)
The rescheduled test date will be posted at www.actstudent.org. Registered examiners will receive official notification from ACT.  (Photo source: WDAM)

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Results from the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program show reading and math scores have improved since the program debuted two years ago.

"Student achievement in Mississippi is steadily improving thanks to the hard work and focused efforts of teachers, administrators, parents and students," said Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education. "We have raised expectations for what students can accomplish, and our students are meeting and exceeding these higher expectations."

MAAP assesses student performance in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics in grades 3-8, English II and Algebra. The assessment tracks students' progress to make sure they have the knowledge needed to succeed in college and in the work force.

The Petal School District led the way for schools across the state, scoring in the top five in ELA and mathematics.

"I think our rigor has continued to stay at a very, very high level. Our teachers do an amazing job of producing good lessons and making sure it meets the needs of our students," said Petal Superintendent Matt Dillon.

MAAP tests have five levels. Students scoring at Levels 4 and 5 are considered proficient or advanced in the subject.

The Petal School District was the top district in mathematics, with 69.2% of students scoring a Level 4 & 5.  The district ranked second in the state for English Language Arts, with 55.1% of students scoring in the top two levels.

"Just goes back to our people working hard, just really teaching the standards at a very, very high level and our students responding to our engaging lessons," said Dillon.

In the second year of the new standardized test, Dillon said they were able to make small changes to test-taking skills during the year while still focusing on content.

"Some of the testing in the past, where you have four answer choices, a,b,c,d, it does not look like that anymore," said Dillon.  "So, as we give common assessments and regular unit tests in a normal day to day life at school, we make sure we mimic the format of the test."

Statewide, the Mississippi Department of Education reported the percentage of students scoring in Level 1 dropped in ELA and mathematics, while the students scoring in Level 5 increased over the previous year.

According to MDE, the MAAP results showed the following overall results:

  • 22 districts had greater than 45% of all students scoring Level 4 or 5 in ELA, compared to 14 districts the previous year
  • 32 districts had greater than 45% of all students scoring Level 4 or 5 in mathematics, compared to 15 districts the previous year

Dillon said he was proud of the results, especially dealing with January's EF-3 tornado that forced some students in Petal Harvey Baptist Church for classes.

"That just goes to show that our teachers are just doing an amazing job at preparing our kids," said Dillon.  "Not just for the test,  we are preparing kids for being successful and mastering those standards so they can walk across the stage and be successful citizens."

Check out your district's scores below.