Thursday’s State Department of Education leaders claimed that they were successful in the 2015-2016 state exams. There was an increase in students scoring higher and a decrease in students scoring lower. Comparing to the 32.2 percent last year, 32.6 percent scored proficient (or levels 4-5) in English Language Arts. Test results show that 31 percent of students were proficient in math, which is 4.5 percentage points more than last year. At the end of the school school year, more than 260,000 students in grades three through eight and high schoolers took math and English language arts tests. State education officials pointed out that while the percentage of Levels 1 and 2 students has declined, there are some districts where students score in these brackets more often than others. Students are assigned to one of five performance levels: minimal, basic pass, proficient, advanced, pass, proficient, and advanced. Only levels 4 and 5 (proficient and advanced) are considered “proficient”. Midtown Public Charter School, Holmes County School District and Holmes County School District were mentioned to the board as examples schools or districts where most students fall in the lowest two categories. Nearly half of 5th graders at Midtown scored in English levels 1 and 2, while almost 70 percent scored in the lowest levels of the same subject test. Similar results were seen in math with half of Midtown’s 6th graders scoring Level 2, and none scoring Level 5. “That’s important, so we should be thinking about ‘how can we help those schools, and how can we help these children?” Carey Wright, the state superintendent of education, said. A number of school districts, including Madison, Clinton and Oxford, Petal, Ocean Springs, performed well in math and English Language Arts. Ronnie McGehee, Madison County Superintendent, said that he attributes the success of his district to two simple things. McGehee stated that teachers focus on excellent instruction while students are focusing on performance in an ever-changing educational environment. “We are fortunate to have wonderful teachers and principals with supportive parents and communities.” Students took the Mississippi Assessment Program for the first time in 2015-2016 after the state separated from the Common Core testing consortium Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers the year before. J.P. Beaudoin is the chief of research-development at the Department of Education. He said that the results were “fairly consistent” with the previous year’s. Beaudoin stressed that the results of this year cannot be directly compared with last year’s due to the different tests. He said that the last year’s results can be used as a guide. Wright stated that there are generally “lots” of students at level 3, or “pass.” These students are what teachers and educators should focus on. They should be able move quickly to proficiency if they have access to additional resources. The MAP test is used to measure student progress from grades 3-8. It includes annual English Language Arts and Mathematics tests, as well as high school Algebra I/English II. Wright said that the students’ level English scores were due to Wright’s new writing component on the test. This is a first for students. Beaudoin stated that these tests are extremely difficult to state Board of Education members Thursday. It’s not like the bubble in test. Some cases require students to answer questions and enter a value. Highlights from the results: Make a donation to support this work today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.