JACKSON, MISS– State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright said Friday that Mississippi students have made improvements, according to recent test scores.
“With an assessment as difficult as this was,” said Dr. Wright. “I was very pleased with how the children did.”
Dr. Wright said the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test was one of the more rigorous tests that students in the state have ever taken.
Assessment protocol for the Mississippi public school system has changed, and the first round of results will be released in the fall.
“The results will be released to the school districts in September,” said Dr. Wright. “And then to the public after the board approval in October.”
Dr. Wright said that while the testing has been more difficult, the tightening of standards was a necessity to moving public education forward.
“To me, if you set a high bar, children will reach the bar,” said Dr. Wright. “The bar was set too low for too long.”
The “passing” grade for assessment has been raised to “proficient,” meaning students must have a grasp on the concepts being tested to a degree that is on-par with their grade level, beyond just familiarity.
With the switch to new testing, Dr. Wright said that the administration had to adjust to the new protocol. Therefore, the last results of assessment could be waived.
“When you get your score, if your score is higher that the one before… you get to keep that score,” said Dr. Wright. “But if it is lower, you get to keep the higher score.”
That waiver, provided by the federal government, expired with the last round of assessment for the 2014-2015 year. Moving forward, the score received for that year is the score to which the district will adhere.
Dr. Wright said that improvement in public education is beyond test scores, as new resources for students are soon to come into play.
“We’ve got career-readiness initiatives.. we’ve got a dual-credit, dual-enrollment initiative,” said Dr. Wright. “We have a lot of opportunities that weren’t there before.”
However, improvements are still needed for children in their formative years.
“I”m not going to tell you we are where we need to be,” said Dr. Carey Wright, citing needs for pre-k program enhancement. “A lot of our neighboring states, including Alabama, is way far ahead in access to early childhood education.”