SOCSD stays at C rating, HWS now failing

Staff Writer

Despite the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District retaining its C accountability rating, one elementary school experienced a drastic drop in this year’s statewide assessment.

Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary, ranked at a B in last year’s assessment, was ranked at an F level for this year with a score of 258. Armstrong Middle School also retained its D rating with a score of 307.

SOCSD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christy Maulding said the district would comb through the specific data to figure out what went wrong at Henderson Ward Stewart.

“We want to look at grade level standards, and we want to look at every single student,” Maulding said. “We want to identify processes and instructional strategies that reach a range of students and support teachers. Of course, we need students at school every day. We need them behaving at school, and we need teaching and learning going on from the minute they get there to the minute they leave.”

Maulding said the leadership at Armstrong would follow similar protocol, focusing on training teachers and studying student data.

"All of us are looking at data, formative assessments and summative assessments to see where our students and teachers strengths are and in the areas that we want to re-teach or re-focus for mastery," Maulding said.

Starting this year, students in the district have been preparing for the state tests with two software programs: Case 21 and iReady.

"We'll give them assessments that will be aligned to what they will be measured on at the end of the year," said Superintendent Eddie Peasant."It's just important for them to practice the way they're going to play."

Maulding said the value of these assessments was being able to see what individual students need to work on, and being able to evaluate what problems and concepts many students were struggling with.

"We can go back and teach test-taking strategies, re-teach a standard that might have been misunderstood," Maulding said. "It helps inform the teacher's instruction when we can break it down item by item like that."

Better news came from West Elementary, which jumped from a C to a 453-point A rating this year and Starkville High School, which retained its B rating at 722 points and is now 26 points away from an A rating.

Maulding said in a school as small as West, it was easy for the performance of just a few students to have a dramatic effect on a school's score.

An 87.5 percent graduation rate was also reported for SHS, a considerable rise from years past.

However, in a presentation at the Oct. 10 school board meeting, SHS Principal Sean McDonnall expressed concerns about a more than 10-point drop in math proficiency.

"We went from 42.1 (percent) to 29 (percent)," McDonnall said. "I replaced four math teachers last year."

Overstreet Elementary received a C rating with 339 points, and Sudduth Elementary was not rated due to ratings not being a required measurement for kindergarten and first grade.

Both Peasant and Maulding said as new administrators to the district, it was important for them to have a baseline to work with.

"That's vital for growth," Peasant said. "You have to know where you are and know what got you to where you are to form a plan to get you to where you want to go."