The Union County School District was named one of the top seven school districts in the state of Mississippi for student proficiency in both English Language Arts and mathematics.
The Mississippi Department of Education, which released the 2018-19 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) test scores this week, declared Union County to be one of the top school districts, along with Booneville, Clinton, Enterprise, Ocean Springs, Oxford and Petal.
The MAAP assesses student performance in English and math in grades 3-8, English II and Algebra I. Scores are broken down into five categories, with Level 5 the highest achievement possible.
“We’re very proud of the staff, the teachers,” said Ken Basil, superintendent of the school district. “It takes everybody to be involved in these students’ lives to make them successful.”
According to Union County School District Assistant Superintendent Windy Faulkner, at least 50 percent of the students tested in every grade scored either a Level 4 or 5.
“In at least one category, our 3rd grade math score, 80 percent of our students scored a Level 4 or higher,” she said.
Ronnie Boyd, the district’s testing coordinator, said Union County’s success should be credited to not only teachers and students, but everyone involved.
“It takes everyone, from our teachers and administrators, to our cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers,” Boyd said. “They all care about our students and help them not only to do well on the tests, but to become successful, well-rounded people.”
Mississippi also introduced new science tests in 2018-19 that measured student mastery of the subject among 5th and 8th graders. In the county school district, 82.3 percent of 5th graders scored Level 4 or higher, while its 67.2 percent of its 8th graders scored the same.
In addition, 76.2 percent of Union County students who took the Biology subject test scored Level 4 or higher and 70 percent scored the same in US History.
The district’s success in 3rd grade math was certainly helped along by scores from West Union Attendance Center. These students, as a class, were number one out of 411 schools in Mississippi. The school also excelled in other categories, placing in the top 10 of 411 schools in 12 of the 18 tests given in the 3rd through 8th grade math and science, as well as English II, Algebra 1, Biology and U.S. History.
Russell Taylor, principal of West Union, said he and his staff are extremely pleased with the school’s test scores.
“These are the best scores we’ve had in my tenure here,” Taylor said. “We were top in the state in 3rd grade math, 3rd in the state in 3rd grade ELA, and we had several places where we were near the top. “We’re extremely pleased and proud of our students and our teachers who worked very hard to achieve this. A special thanks goes out to the community, because our parents keep their kids engaged. We owe it all to the hard working students and teachers.”
West Union’s assistant principal, Matt Thompson, agreed.
“It’s a testament to our teachers and our students, the way they worked every day,” Thompson said. “It’s nice to get the results back and they can see the fruits of their labor. The test data actually reveals all of the hard work they put in.”
Faulkner did say that, overall, there are a few areas with room for continued improvement, especially in the junior high grades.
“Their scores are still very good, but there’s always room to grow,” she said. “We just want to create an environment where we hope to build relationships with our students in that age group to help them succeed.”