Thursday, September 29, 2011
County schools evaluate scores
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall County School District received a mixed bag when the Mississippi Department of Education delivered its accountability ratings.
The district, as a whole, fell a notch – from Successful in 2010 to Academic Watch in 2011.
Jerry Moore, deputy superintendent of education, said test scores went up overall but not meeting growth standards caused the drop.
“I am really proud our scores went up, but I am disappointed that we did not meet our growth expectation as set by the state,” he said. “We grew so much last year (2010 ratings) that we knew it would be tougher, and we still only missed it by less than a point.
“Our achievement scores standing alone were at Successful but the growth is what moved our labels down.”
Seeing their labels go down were Byhalia Middle School, from Academic Watch to Low Performing; Mary Reid School, from Successful to Academic Watch; H.W. Byers Elementary, from Academic Watch to Low Performing; and H.W. Byers High School, from Successful to Academic Watch.
Byhalia Middle School did not meet growth from fourth to fifth grade. Other growth problems came in third to fourth grade math at both Mary Reid and Byers Elementary and from eighth grade up to U.S. History at Byers High.
Meanwhile, some schools raised their accountability labels.
Byhalia High School rose two notches, from At Risk of Failing to Academic Watch; and Byhalia Elementary School, from At Risk of Failing to Low Performing.
Byhalia High’s rise was due to such a dramatic increase in test scores, plus Byhalia Elementary’s test scores went up, too. However, neither school met growth.
“I’m extremely proud of the staff and students at Byhalia Elementary and High School for getting their scores up, getting rid of that ‘at-risk’ label and moving up the scale,” Moore said.
Remaining Successful were both Galena Elementary School and Potts Camp High School, and they were the only two schools to meet growth targets.
“The MDE included the U.S. History scores in the growth model this year by combining scores from eighth grade reading and math,” Moore said. “They developed a growth residual and students had to meet that growth residual.
“That hurt our district in the growth model. It is an apples to oranges comparison.”
Also, one of the district’s strong points each year, biology scores, was excluded from the formula this year due to the assessment being new and the scaling of the assessment not being finished until September 1.
The growth target is one of three factors used to determine school rankings. It uses a formula to measure whether all students demonstrated that they received a year’s worth of learning. The other two factors are the Quality of Distribution Index, which is based upon student results on state standardized tests, and in some cases, the graduation rate.
Moore said the district’s graduation rate moved from 62 percent to 70 percent, according to the United States Department of Education.
Also, two schools – Byhalia High and H.W. Byers High – came out of school improvement and will not have to offer school choice.
“This is impressive for them as the proficiency ranges went up dramatically,” Moore said.
Byhalia Middle is in an improvement status for reading/language arts (primarily grades 5 and 6), he said.
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