County schools discuss scoresBy MARK ROGERS,
The Marion County school board received a report last week outlining the district’s accomplishments and its struggles from the state achievement results released in October.
The district earned a C ranking, earning 573 points, a drop of 22 from last year. To earn a B, the district would have needed to hit the 599 mark this year. An A district needs a 668 on the scale. Only 14 districts in the state earned an A.
In 2015 and 2016 the district had earned an overall B grade.
“This year we were 22 points below a B,” Superintendent Wendy Bracey said. “We will get those 22 points back. Test scores have been a moving target. I foresee the cut scores changing again.”
“The moving targets do not affect our district,” she said. “We have work to do. We earned our marks and no one went into ‘school improvement.’”
One big highlight was noted at West Marion Elementary School. Principal Sherrie Williams received a banner for her school’s B, the first time it has earned the distinction. East Marion and West Marion high schools both earned D ratings and East Elementary and West Primary made Cs.
Each individual classification of testing was reviewed during the lengthy session, with several standouts including high marks in biology at East and West Marion being noted. At East Marion out of a possible 50 points on biology, the school scored 30.9, or 61.7 proficient or advanced. At West Marion the number was even higher.
“Our biology department tested 168 students and 77 percent scored proficient,” Principal Gigi Dunaway said. “The state average is 60.”
At both high schools, growth was seen in U.S. history as well, and at East Marion High School, Principal Cindy Newsome was pleased with another result.
“In English II we had 63 percent score proficient or advanced,” she said.
Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Michael Day said there were positives in several areas.
“We actually made some gains last year,” he said. “We can pinpoint where our problems are, and we’re working really hard. We also need to see the growth. If we don’t get growth, we don’t get the points. We’re steady in math at both high schools. If we get those points back and see growth, we’ll get back to a B. We’re also proud that Marion County has one of the highest ACT rates in the area. West Marion went up by nearly two points. This year, both schools should show improvement.”
Bracey pointed out that West Marion Primary was one point from a B rating and said the work at West Marion Elementary was to be commended, too.
Pictured Above: Marion County School District officials celebrate the B rating for West Marion Elementary during a recent board meeting. From left are Superintendent Wendy Bracey, Principal Sherrie Williams and curriculum director Michael Day. | Photo by Mark Rogers