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New Test Scores: Better Than Expected
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Test results are being released today by the Mississippi Department of Education. The new data from the 2013-2014 school year is better than some education officials expected.

According to the report released today by the state Department of Education, Mississippi's public schools saw an estimated five percent decrease in test scores during the 2013-2014 school year as compared to the one before. While the decrease may sound like bad news, some education officials believe the state did better than expected. Rachel Canter is with Mississippi First -- an education based think tank.

"Some of the scores on the statewide level have fallen a bit, and that is likely because schools last year were in a transition phase over to Common Core in Reading and Math." says Canter. "So some decline in scores is to be expected because of the mismatch between what they're teaching and what they're being tested on. Over time we expect to see is that those scores will once again rise when we have greater alignment."

Canter also says Mississippi schools did better than other states that transitioned to the new Common Core standards. But with more rigorous testing on the way this year's scores may be the best the state sees for the next few years.

"It would not surprise me at all if the scores next year under the PARCC Exam were much lower than they are this year." says Canter. "The PARCC Exam is going to be much more rigorous. The Common Core standards are a lot higher than our current standards for Reading and Math."

In the Hattiesburg Public School System officials say students scored better in math this year, but slipped in English and Reading. Assistant Superintendent Edna Thomas says they're already working to improve next year.

“We've realized that most of the student concerns or deficit areas are in reading comprehension and then application of what they read." says Thomas. "So we put some things in place at the early years for our students to try to make sure they have the literacy foundation piece in order for us to get prepared for the assessments for next year."

State education authoritiesagreed not to penalize districts for last year's scores to help schools adapt to the new Common Core educational standards.Essentially allowing them to keep the same A-F grade they received in 2013.