Scoring improves on state tests from Holmes’ elementary students

By Matthew Breazeale
The Mississippi Department of Education has released findings for two state assessment on elementary school students in as many months.
The third grade reading test results, released in May for Holmes County School District, show a passing rate of 66.2% out of 284 test takers from all four district elementary schools, Goodman-Pickens, S.V. Marshall, William Dean Jr. and Williams-Sullivan.
Holmes County School District Superintendent Dr. Angel Meeks said the score reflects a gain from last year.
“Our teachers, students and parents all worked collaboratively to ensure that students were able to demonstrate mastery of the skills on the text,” said Meeks. “Collectively, we made a 7% increase from last school term.
“Third grade student strengths include word knowledge and skills, comprehension strategies and constructing meaning. Weaknesses include analyzing text, understanding the author’s craft and analyzing argument and evaluating text,” Meeks continued.
Passing the state test is defined as students scoring between 926 and 1200.
Third grade reading re-tests for the 33.8% of those who failed will take place from Monday, June 27 through Wednesday, June 29 at William Dean Jr. Elementary.
Studies on student performance show how eye tracking and eye health play a role in efficient reading skills. Across the state free eye exams were offered by optometrists for students who failed their first reading test.
Meeks said she wasn’t sure of any local parent response to the free eye exams.
Third grade student retention was another topic highlighted in the test results. Currently, “about 50% of the students in the summer program (are) on track to promotion,” according to Meeks.
Statewide, 87% of third graders achieved a passing score. The tests were administered in public schools in March and April.
The highest scoring elementary school, percentage wise, was Williams-Sullivan, 87%/13% pass/fail, with 23 test taker. The lowest being William Dean Jr., 57.8%/42.2% with 128 test takers.
According to the results, the top three performing school districts in the state were Baldwyn, Aberdeen and Franklin County.
In related news, Mississippi’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Results were also released this month.
The assessment is aimed at providing parents, teachers and early childhood providers with a common understanding of what children know and are able to do upon entering school.
“The primary purpose of the KRA is to improve the quality of classroom instruction for students based on each student’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
Holmes County Schools rated a 694 for this past spring semester, on a scale of 300 to 900.
The result comes as good news for the district which scored 461 in the fall semester, a 233 point gain of 220 test takers.
The 694 score jumps HCSD’s classification of readers from “Late Emergent” to “Transitional Reader,” according to the assessment results.
Meeks said the score is a great accomplishment.
“We realize that it creates the opportunity to ensure that these students continue their academic progress,” Meeks said. “This year, administrators and teachers were more familiar with the STAR exam, how to interpret the reports and how to provide the instructional support for students. Parental support was also a critical component.”
Meeks explained the strengths and weaknesses of the district’s youngest students.
“Strengths are the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness and phonics,” Meeks added. “Some of the areas that need improvement are vocabulary, sentence and paragraph comprehension and structural analysis.”
The overall state average spring score is 703 out of the 37,691 test takers, a gain of 201 from the fall.

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