The recently released results from the 2021-22 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program indicates that students are bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels of achievement.
The Mississippi Department of Education reported that statewide the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced reached an all-time high of 42.2% in English-language arts and 55.9% in science and reached 47.3% in mathematics, which was close to the pre-pandemic rate of 47.4%.
“The 2021-22 assessment results provide clear and indisputable evidence of the resilience of our students and educators and their ability to recover from the disruptions to learning,” said Dr. Kim Benton, interim state superintendent of education, in a press release. “We are confident Mississippi educators and school leaders across the state will continue to build upon this progress by setting high expectations and working to ensure every student in every school overcomes the setbacks of the pandemic and is successful.”
Attala County School District’s highest scores of proficient or advanced in English-language arts were in third grade with 55.2% students scoring in the top two levels, fourth grade at 62.9% and fifth grade at 52.4%. The highest scores in math were in third grade with 62.2% of students scoring proficient or advanced, sixth grade with 44.5%, and 54.6% of Algebra I students scoring in the top two levels.
Kosciusko School District’s highest English-language arts scores of proficient or advanced included 53.5% English II students scoring in the top two levels, fifth grade at 46.8%, and seventh grade at 42.2%. Algebra I students had the most math scores of proficient or advanced with 62.1%, followed by seventh grade with 49.7% and sixth grade with 48.7%.
Proficient is the percentage of students who scored at a level 4, and advanced refers to scoring at a level 5. This is on a scale of 1 to 5. Level 1 is a “minimal” score, level 2 is “basic,” and level 3 is “passing.”
Most of the students who did not achieve a passing score, or at least a level 3, in the Attala County and Kosciusko school districts were in the next bracket of level 2.
According to the Mississippi Department of Education, MAAP measures students’ progress toward academic goals that equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and the workforce.
Before the pandemic, students were continuing to make progress on the assessments since the testing began in 2016. In 2019, students scoring proficient and advanced reached a record high. After the pandemic, student achievement declined not only throughout the state but also nationwide.
No assessments were given in 2020 because of school closures at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There have been incredible efforts in districts and at the state level to remove barriers for students,” Benton said. “We still have students in areas of the state who have not completely rebounded. Support will continue to be available in the upcoming school year and next summer to make sure every student is able to recover from the disruptions to their learning and narrow achievement gaps.”
According to the Mississippi Department of Education, the overall increase in assessment scores after the decline in 2020-21 will most likely impact district and school grades because the calculation of the state’s A-F accountability grades relies heavily on the amount of progress students make from one year to the next.
The accountability grades will soon be announced at the Mississippi State Board of Education meeting on Sept. 29.