Miss. students score lower

Published 12:58 am Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mississippi students didn’t score as high as officials had wanted on new and rigorous curriculum tests, but Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds said raising standards is an important step in preparing the state’s young people to compete in the global workforce.

The tests were instituted in a move to improve the state’s ranking on national assessments — benchmarks of education.

Overall, Mississippi students didn’t perform as well as expected, Bounds said. But in releasing the test scores at a news conference Friday, he said the higher standards should eventually yield benefits.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“While the numbers today do not look like we want them to look, we’re doing the right thing for boys and girls,” Bounds said.

The state Department of Education has implemented more rigorous mathematics and reading requirements for the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition.

The federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires student performance in grades 3-8 to be classified in one of four ways: advanced, proficient, basic or minimal.

In those grades, proficiency rates in language arts ranged from 34 percent to 41 percent. Advanced rates ranged from 2 percent to 13 percent. Proficiency rates in math ranged from 38 percent to 49 percent. The advanced rates ranged from 6 percent to 18 percent.

Kris Kaase, deputy superintendent for instructional program and services, said only 45 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading and language arts on this year’s test. He said that figure was 90 percent in 2007 under the less encompassing system. The percentages were statewide and no individual school district numbers released.

Kaase said the new curriculum mirrors what’s expected of students in other states.

Kaase said the difference in the curriculum is that previously students were just required to know basic facts. Now, they have to apply that information to situations, he said.

Kaase said the goal is for Mississippi students to meet the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam by 2013.

Bounds, who was joined at the news conference by Mississippi Economic Council president Blake Wilson, said education and economic development go hand in hand. Business and industry use the NAEP as an indicator when considering whether to locate or expand, education officials said.

Bounds said educators from 73 school districts helped design the new curriculum, which focuses on cognitive demand. He said the state Department of Education has been working with universities to better equip teachers for classroom instruction on the new curriculum.

“We’re going to work through this new curriculum together,” Bounds said. “We’re on too many lists where we’re No. 50.”