While the South Pike School District has made strides and is in the middle of an administrative overhaul, there is still a lot of work to be done for the district to shed its F rating from the state, an analysis of the district’s testing data shows.

The Mississippi Department of Education recently released scores from the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program, the standardized tests given to students in third grade through high school.

Students in grades 3 through 8 are tested in English and math, while high school students are tested in English, algebra biology and U.S. history.

South Pike saw its strongest performance in middle school English specifically and in mathematics more generally.

Seventh-graders scored comparatively well in English, achieving the 86th-best scores out of 142 total school districts.

Thirty-seven students out of 115 students tested (27.8%) scored high enough to be considered “adequately prepared to advance to the next grade level.”

Eighth grade students scored well on the mathematics test, also ranking 86th, with 40 students out of 115 students scoring high enough to meet the state standard for advancement.

The district performed the best on its Algebra I scores. Algebra I students placed 76 out of 142 school districts and saw a total number of adequately prepared students of 25 out of 59 (42.4%).

While these results are indeed encouraging, scores in a number of other grade levels may be cause for some concern.

Sixth-grade math scores were comparatively low, with Eva Gordon Upper Elementary School students scoring 135 out of a field of 142 schools and just 12 students out of 122 (9.8%) scoring well enough to be considered adequately prepared in that subject area.

Fifth-grade math scores were slightly higher, with South Pike students scoring 123 out of 140 districts. Eva Gordon Upper Elementary had six students out of 99 (6.1%) score high enough to meet the subject preparedness benchmark. Osyka Elementary had 14 students out of 32 (43.8%) who scored high enough to be considered adequately prepared in math.

Fourth-grade math scores also were low. As a district, South Pike scored 131 out of 140. At Eva Gordon Lower Elementary, just 16 students out of 114 (14%) scored high enough to be considered adequately prepared at grade-level in mathematics. At Osyka Elementary, eight students out of 24 (33.33%) scored high enough to be considered adequately prepared.

In July, the school district hired new Superintendent Dr. Donna Scott, who helped two schools in the Hattiesburg Public School District improve their F ratings to a C. These scores will act as a foundation upon which Scott can build.

Scott didn’t return messages seeking comment for this story.

South Pike replaced former district Superintendent Johnnie Vick in July, citing a lack of progress on improvement to the district’s F rating. Vick led the district for two years after serving as a superintendent in the Mississippi Delta and was temporarily replaced effective July 1 by Interim Superintendent Warren Banks. Scott was hired about two weeks into Banks’ tenure of service.

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