August 21, 2003
Little distorts test scores
To the editor:
I am writing this letter to provide you and your readers with a better understanding of the statewide test scores for the Lauderdale County Schools that were reported in The Meridian Star on Friday, Aug. 15. I am not just an uninformed reader of your paper. Instead, I am a college graduate with a degree in accounting, a mother of four children who attend Southeast schools, and am employed as a Kindergarten Teacher's Assistant at Southeast Elementary.
I chose to do this job so I could be more involved with my children and their school and to also provide other children the love and opportunity to rise above their circumstances. Because of this, I believe that I am in a unique position to share with you and your readers some informative insight into better understanding the recently published statewide test scores.
Be it known that I am not related to any other Knight's in this area. Thirteen years ago, my husband and I chose to move into the Southeast district in Lauderdale County and to raise our children in this community.
First of all, I would like to address the manner in which David Little handled the announcement of the 2003 test results. Mr. Little purposely humiliated Southeast Elementary School, our teachers, our kids and our community in order to promote his political agenda. His facts were correct in that we scored lower than the state average in eight of nine areas.
However, he failed to convey to the public the fact that five out of eight areas were less than 10 points from the state average. In fact, those five areas ranged from .4 to 6.0 below. I believe Mr. Little should have acknowledged the fact that the Southeast Elementary students, teachers and parents have worked together in order to improve the test scores. I also believe he chose to exploit our school's test scores for his own political gain.
When the test scores were traced back to the first year of testing (2000-01) and then tracked forward to the current year (2002-03), the gap has continually closed in every area tested. Test results for Spring 2003 4th graders indicated that students had moved closer to the state average in Reading, Language and Math.
Reading scores indicated that students moved from being 9.6 points below the state average to 1.6 points below. Language scores indicated that students moved from being 7.1 points below the state average to 4.5 points below. Math scores indicated that students moved from being 10.6 points below the state average to 6.8 points above.
Furthermore, I would like for Mr. Little to explain how Southeast Middle School 5th graders scored first in the county in Reading, and Language and second in Math. The 6th graders scored first in the county in Reading, Language and Math. Spring 2003 test results indicated that students who were 4th graders in 2000-01 (Spring 2003 6th graders) have scored significantly above the state average. Reading scores indicated that students moved from 7.1 points above the state average to 21.2 points above. Language scores indicated that students moved from 4.9 points above the state average to 34.7 points above. Math scores indicated that students moved from 1.1 points below the state average to 36.00 points above.
In no way is this meant to take away from the excellent job the Middle School teachers are doing; however, it can not happen unless students have received a firm foundation before they get there. It is called working together from the bottom up to create student success.
Finally, as a parent and a co-worker of the teachers at Southeast Elementary, I want Mr. Little to know I believe our teachers are striving to do all they can during the time they have our children. Many or our children enter Kindergarten 1 to 2 years below grade level. This presents the challenge of moving children from 5 to 7 years in growth during their five-year period of Kindergarten through 4th grade. The administration, teachers, parents, and students continue to strive for improvement.
I would ask you again, Mr. Little, how could you publicly humiliate our teachers, our school, our kids and our community in the newspaper and on local television by irresponsibly taking one set of scores and using them against us?
Our students have made tremendous gains and should be applauded. How could you have taken so much away from our teachers, our school, our kids our community and yours just for the advancement of your political career?
Karen H. Knight