Testing in Mississippi: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2008-2009 Mississippi used the Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT) to test students in math and language arts in grades 3 through 8, and the Mississippi Science Test (MST) to test students in science in grades 5 and 8.
The Subject Area Testing Program (SATP) was given to students upon completion of the following high school-level classes: algebra I, English II, biology I, U.S. history and writing. High school students must receive passing scores on all sections of the SATP in order to receive a diploma. The tests are standards-based, which means they measure how well students are meeting the state's grade-level expectations.
How are the tests scored?
MCT and MST results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students are rated at one of four levels: minimal, basic, proficient and advanced. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
SATP results are scored between 0 and 500, with 300 and above considered to be a passing score. The goal is for all students to pass the tests. Learn more on the Mississippi Department of Education website.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
For each subject on the MCT and MST, the combined percentage of students scoring at and above the proficient level is displayed. For the SATP, the percent of students passing each subject is shown.
Why do the tests matter?
Mississippi test results are one tool used by schools to determine if students are meeting grade-level standards. This is particularly true in grades 3 and 7, which are labeled benchmark years. Interventions such as tutoring and extended-day services may be advised for low-performing students. Students who do not meet standards on the MCT are retested mid-year. In addition, all students must pass the SATP in order to graduate. Students have multiple opportunities to retake the tests if they do not pass the first time.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for his school. If your child scores below the standards, contact his teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home.
If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for obtaining supplemental services or for transferring to a higher-performing school.
A few parting words
Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.
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