HPSD receives dismal test results

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Hattiesburg schools 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 16.4 percent of the Hattiesburg School District’s 359 third-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 1.1 percent earned advanced scores. Of the same students tested in mathematics, 21.3 percent scored proficient and 3.2 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 16.4 percent of fourth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 1.1 percent tested advanced out of 359 students tested. Around 13.4 percent scored proficient on the math test and 3.9 percent received advanced scores.

Around 21.3 percent of the 338 fifth-grade students who were tested in ELA received a proficient score, while 3.3 percent earned advanced scores. On the math test, 15.4 percent scored proficient and 5.3 percent scored advanced.

Approximately 19.1 percent of sixth-grade students tested received a proficient score and 9.2 percent tested advanced out of 282 students tested in ELA. In math, 24.2 percent scored proficient and 2.5 percent scored advanced.

Of the 290 seventh-grade students taking the ELA test, 12.4 percent scored proficient and 5.2 percent earned advanced scores. However, on the math test, 23.9 percent score proficient and 6.9 percent received advanced scores.

Approximately 15.5 percent of eighth-grade students taking the ELA test scored proficient and 2.5 percent scored advanced of the 441 students tested. On the math test, 24.2 percent scored advanced and 3.3 percent scored proficient.

Of the 441 Hattiesburg High School students taking the English II test, 13.2 percent scored proficient and 2.5 percent scored advanced. With 391 students taking the Algebra I test, 11.5 percent scored proficient and 2.6 percent scored advanced.

The number of students scoring proficient and advanced counts toward the school district’s overall accountability score.

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.

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.