Major Growth Achieved in One Year
By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn Central Elementary students and teachers “knocked it out of the ballpark” with their latest accountability grade, which rose from a C to an A this year, said Principal John Anderson.
It had been around five years since ACES, which is now an apt name, had achieved an A on the statewide accountability scale.
Anderson gives all the credit to the teachers and students and said all he did was push them to succeed.
Raising the grade from a C to an A involved analyzing data to “pinpoint” areas where growth was needed.
“Growth is weighted tremendously in the accountability model,” Anderson said.
All of the grade levels, starting with pre-K, are critical when it comes to the children succeeding on the statewide tests in third and fourth grade, Anderson noted.
ACES deployed a strategic and “individualized” approach to rise from a C to an A, Anderson said.
Anderson met individually with the fourth-grade students and looked at how they did on the test the prior year. The fourth-grade students were told they could make their school an “A” before they went to middle school in fifth grade.
Anderson did not want to put pressure on the students or get them stressed out over the test. Interventionists also helped students improve in certain areas. He thinks it was helpful to some children for them to know they were only a few points away from a better grade.
The scores the students earn in the third grade are a baseline from which to grow when they take the test again in the fourth grade.
ACES saw “tremendous growth” in math with an 82 percent increase overall and an 86 percent increase for students who were in the bottom 25 percent the prior year. There was an almost 60 percent increase in English from the year before.
The grades recently became official, and ACES is starting to celebrate the achievement. But at the same time the school is trying to maintain its drive so it will be graded an A again next year.
“You can’t settle,” said Anderson, who is in his fifth year as principal.
Writing is an area of the English test that ACES needs to give more focus, he said.
While the school has already achieved the top grade of an A, there is still room to go up, such as scoring an even higher A and being No. 1 in the state. Anderson noted that there is a “friendly competition” between schools and this can be a motivator.
Students can score on Levels 1-5 on the test, and those in Levels 4 and 5 are considered “proficient.” About 52 percent were proficient in math and 48 percent in English at ACES, compared to 43 percent and 40 percent statewide, respectively.
Kossuth High School and Kossuth Elementary are also “A” schools, and they were last year as well. The Alcorn School District as a whole is a “B” this year, which is the same as the prior year. The scores are based on tests students took last year.