By Taylor McKay Hathorn
After a year without standardized testing due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the Governor’s subsequent order to close schools, Mississippi public schoolers took state assessments once again earlier this spring. As projected, test scores across the state fell, with educators citing learning loss and disrupted learning as the leading causes of student performance on the yearly assessments.
“The disruption and stress caused by COVID-19 has had an impact on student performance in every state in the country, and the impact has been more marked in mathematics than in English Language Arts,” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright said in a statement regarding the release of scores. With this in mind, the Mississippi Department of Education agreed to allow students to be promoted without receiving a passing score and have thus far declined to rank Mississippi schools based on 2020-2021 test scores.
Though the Clinton Public School District did experience the shortfalls that plagued the rest of the state, its results were generally positive, and the district ranked well above the state average. In fourth grade ELA and Mathematics, the District’s percentage of students scoring a 4 or a 5 (which constitutes “proficiency” by state standards) were 23.1 and 34.6 percentage points higher than the state average, respectively.
Clinton was one of only six districts in the state to be in the top ten in both mathematics and ELA. Other districts on the list include Enterprise School District, Madison County School District, Ocean Springs School District, Petal School District and Rankin County School District.
Despite state- and district-wide trends to the contrary, the Clinton’s eighth graders demonstrated growth in both ELA and Mathematics from their 2019 year-end assessment to their 2021 year-end assessment, rising from 50.1% to 54.5% in ELA and from 47% to 65.4% in Mathematics.
Roughly half of the students in grades 3 through 8 were considered “proficient” in both Math and ELA, with only sixth grade ELA test-takers falling below the 50% proficiency threshold, with a district-wide proficiency percentage of 49%. That proficiency percentage sailed as high as 67.8% in fourth grade Mathematics and as high as 65.6% in seventh grade Mathematics.
Although high school test takers fared slightly worse than elementary and middle school students in the district, their 46.2% proficiency percentage in ELA still shattered the state average by more than 11 percentage points, and their 42.8% proficiency percentage in Algebra toppled the state’s 33.2% average proficiency.
Clinton performed particularly well when compared to other area high schools, outperforming three of Madison County’s four public high schools on the English II assessment and turning in a better district-wide performance on the same assessment than the Rankin County School District.