Moss Point Superintendent unveils strategy to raise test scores

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The Moss Point School District is once again struggling to pull up its grades. On Wednesday, the interim superintendent unveiled his goals and strategies to help turn the district around.

"Our rating and our current state system here is unacceptable to the community," said Dr. John Ladner, Moss Point Interim Schools Superintendent.

That was his reaction Thursday to the latest Mississippi Accountability Results. The Moss Point School District remains near the bottom of the ratings with a "Low Performing" label.

Its Quality Distribution Index, which focuses on test scores, dropped from 121 in the 2009 school year to 114 last year. The district's graduation rate fell more than 11-percent.  And since the district failed to meet growth standards, the state Department of Education is coming in to offer some guidance.

"We will be working with the state department over the next three or four months to devise a plan," said Ladner.

Ladner has already crafted a vision to help raise the district's achievement level. Among his strategies:

  • Revamping the district's curriculum to closely match the state tests and objectives.
  • Making sure teachers are all moving at the same pace,
  • Training teachers to interpret test data quickly so they can zero-in on students who are struggling.

"We will bring focused teacher groups to deal with the clusters of children that are weak," he said.

The district has also spent almost $1 million to hire two education consulting firms and a local consultant to provide teacher and leadership coaching.

"They'll do everything from sitting in the back of the classroom and watch and critique, all the way up to standing in front of the students and teaching and modeling for our teachers so they can understand what a good lesson looks like," said Ladner.

Ladner is also encouraging teachers to show off their students' work along the walls.  Such a display, he said, will instill pride among the students.

"It's something that we think our students will most certainly want to achieve," he said.

Ladner wants the district to rise to the top.

"There will be a point where we will not settle for second best," he said.

But Ladner admitted it's going to be an uphill battle.

"We have nowhere to go but up," he said.

As part of his action plan, every Monday, Ladner brings Moss Point principals together to share ideas and programs that are working.  And every Wednesday, the teachers meet after school to create common tests and lesson plans.

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