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A look at standardized tests

By Staff
WORKING ON MATH Fourth graders Phillip Mosley, left, and Drew Rush work on their math homework in Mrs. Cross's class Wednesday at Poplar Springs Elementary School. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
Aug. 14, 2003
While Meridian and Lauderdale County schools prepare to release school-by-school standardized test scores, many people may wonder exactly what the scores mean for students and schools.
Results from this year's Mississippi Curriculum Test will be released Friday for Meridian and Lauderdale County schools. The scores will be the major determining factor in assigning performance levels or accreditation levels for each school.
Accreditation levels will be released Sept. 13.
Last year, the Mississippi Department of Education released preliminary accreditation levels for city and county schools. Six city schools were rated Level 1 or "low performing."
No schools in the county were rated Level 1.
The statewide standardized test is taken by students in the second through eighth grades. It gauges student performance in reading, language and math. Principals received individual school scores July 15, but the information was not immediately released to the public.
Meridian Public Schools Superintendent Sylvia Autry said the delay was designed to give principals a chance to digest the scores and discuss them with teachers. Autry said she is excited to release the scores for city schools.
The same is true for the county schools. David Little, superintendent of the Lauderdale County School District, said earlier this week county educators are celebrating because test scores improved from last year.
Although test scores have improved, teachers and students continue to feel the pressure of doing better.
What's on the test?
The Mississippi Curriculum Test measures proficiency in three areas reading, language and math. When the scores are released, each student will be assigned one of four proficiency levels minimal, basic, proficient or advanced.
The reading component of the test measures a student's ability to determine the meaning of a word by using context clues; to recognize prefixes, suffixes, compound words, synonyms, antonyms, and the main idea in a text; and to use visual aids such as maps and charts.
The language component of the test measures a student's ability to recognize the correct use of grade-level-appropriate punctuation and capitalization; the correct spelling of words; complete sentences and sentence fragments; and what makes a paragraph.
The math component of the test measures a student's ability to recognize patterns; to collect and organize data; to measure length and tell time; to recognize geometric concepts; and to demonstrate an overall understanding of numbers.