Past the gate: SCCSD third graders beat expectations on state test

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

When the Mississippi Department of Education announced it was raising the standards for the “third grade gate” test takers this year, the curriculum team at Sunflower County Consolidated School District didn’t sweat a bit.

That was in the face of most experts’ predictions – including MDE itself – that low-performing districts like SCCSD would not crack a 65 percent pass rate in 2019, Superintendent Miskia Davis said.

“We never panicked about it,” Davis told The E-T last week. “We never got caught up in them increasing the bar. We always said that quality instruction would take care of that.”

And it did.

According to Davis, SCCSD had a pass rate of 79 percent on what is known as the third grade gate test.

A.W. James Elementary had the highest pass rate at 88 percent. That’s followed by Lockard at 82 percent, Moorhead Central at 80 percent, Inverness Elementary at 79 percent, East Sunflower Elementary at 71 percent and Ruleville Central at 66 percent.

None of district’s elementary schools fell below the expected 65 percent pass rate.

Davis credits SCCSD’s high success rate to “hard work.”

“Our teachers really worked hard,” she said. “They worked hard on early preparation and monitoring data, intensely.”

Davis said that she expects a large number of the 21 percent remaining that did not pass will be promoted when the results from last Friday’s retest come in.

SCCSD is far from bloated when it comes to bureaucracy and administration.

Aside from Davis being at the helm, the curriculum team consists of William Murphy, Dylan Jones, Shamethia Beaman, LiThesia Kent and Leigh Ann Reynolds.

The crew worked alongside all teachers this year, but Davis said the group had a rapport with the third grade teachers.

Those teachers are Brittany Neal, Krystaline Sample, Katisha Limehouse, Kathryn Brooks, Monique Cocroft, Megan Burton, Erica Scott and Barbara Thigpen- Barber.

All but one are returning in the fall, as Barber is set to retire from A.W. James at the end of the school year.

Davis said she expects the district, as a whole, to continue to improve, as SCCSD seems to be winning the battle against turnover.

“All of our principals (district-wide) are returning next year,” Davis said. “That speaks volumes as to what we can do next year.”

Davis said the plan is to continue on the current course, with the systems and processes that have been put in place in all of the schools.

She said that next year, the district will begin to work more intently with remediation in August, rather than waiting until after December.

With less stress placed on testing, and more emphasis placed on curriculum, Davis believes the district has found a #winning formula.

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