VWSD third-grade students excel in state reading assessment

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, July 11, 2017

After three rounds of tests, only five of the 674 third graders in the Vicksburg Warren School District will be retained in third grade for another year due to failing the state of Mississippi’s reading assessment.

Ten third-graders will be retained in all, but five of them failed both course work and the reading assessment.

“I am very encouraged by the District’s third-grade reading passage rate increase,” VWSD superintendent Chad Shealy said. “The dedication and hard work of our teachers, our students and their parents and our principals is really paying off.”

The VWSD has seen a 12-percent increase in third-graders passing the reading assessment in just the last two years. At the end of the 2014-15 school year, 86.27 percent of third graders passed the test. The number increased to 96.3 percent after the 2015-16 school year and to 98.52 percent this year.

“All third-graders have to take the test,” VWSD testing coordinator Marion Margaret Hern said. “It is now the MAP test, which is what all students take grades three through eight and then high school takes for end of course. This year students had to score a PL 2, there’s five levels on the test. They had to have at least a 2 to pass third grade.”

The test changed slightly this year, but the test that was used after the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years was used for students who had to take the test during the retakes.

“This is the first year they’ve actually used the state assessment,” Hern said. “Renaissance was the supplier for the test last year. Now that Renaissance test is the back-up test. The test you take if you don’t pass the first time you take it.”

After the first round of testing and before good cause exemptions were taken into account, 91.2 percent of VWSD students passed the test. The state average was 92-percent. It was determined that the district had 33 students who qualified for a good cause exemption and were not required to pass the test.

“That could be an EL student who has not had two years of English language,” Hern said. “That could be an student with an IEP [individualized education plan] who has been retained or who has had an IEP for two years. It also could be a kid who is in general education, but has been retained two years previously. There’s five categories. If a kid meets that, they are called a good cause exemption.”

Throughout the district 629 students passed the test outright without having to qualify for a good cause exemption. Bovina, Bowmar, Redwood, SouthPark and Warrenton Elementary Schools reported a 100 percent pass rate after all three rounds of testing were completed.

Redwood Elementary School was the only school with a 100 percent pass rate after the first round even before good cause exemptions were taken into account.

Students took the test for the first two times in May and for the third time at the end of June following a 20-day literacy camp. Four students attended the literacy camp and three of them passed the test during the third round.

VWSD not impacted by test scoring error

Ten VWSD seniors were among the 951 seniors state-wide originally given incorrect scores on the state U.S. History test due to a scoring error by Pearson, which administered the test.

Hern confirmed that none of the 10 seniors were adversely affected by the scoring error. 

“We had 10 student’s scores affected, but it did not retain any of them from graduating,” Hern said. “Nine graduated, one did not graduate because of other things. She actually passed the test. We had 10 students whose scores were different, but it did not impact our district at all.”

The Mississippi Department of Education determined that 10 students throughout the state were permitted to graduate after incorrectly receiving an additional point on the test. The MDE voted in June to not revoke diplomas that were granted in error.

As a result of the scoring error, the MDE chose to terminate its contract with Pearson.