Neshoba ranked number one school, district on state kindergarten assessment

Neshoba ranked number one school, district on state kindergarten assessment   KIndergarten teacher picture

Neshoba Central Kindergarten teachers, first row, from left, are Brittany Kirkland, Allie Fortenberry, Shannon Posey, Keena Stewart, Christy Barrett, Sharon Cole, Leslie Griffis, Tanya Mosher and Michelle Lovern. Second row, Jessica Ridout, Linda Pendergrass, Emily Hill, Debbie McCann, Lynda Stepp, Erika Germany and Tonya Fowler. Third row, Debby Curran, Ann Coghlan, Tammie Vines, Nancy Coats and Amanda Medine. In back are Tera Embry, Shamecka Evans, Miranda Whittle, April Kelly, Lynda Gayle Robertson, Hattie Triplett (custodian), Latitia Hudson, Lindsey Eakes and Sheila McDaniel.

Kindergarten students at Neshoba Central Elementary School earned the highest average score on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment out of 401 schools and 141 districts in Mississippi during the 2018-2019 session.

Neshoba Central has been the top district in the state for three consecutive years on the assessment. This was the first year, however, for the school to be at the top as well.

Kindergarteners take the assessment in the fall and spring of each school year. In fall 2018, 36.9 percent of students state-wide scored kindergarten ready. When kindergarteners were retested in the spring of 2019, 65.6 percent students met the end-of-year target score.

Every district in the state showed progress among their kindergarten classes, though student achievement varied. 

Neshoba Central was at the top with a score of 808. Average scores among schools statewide ranged from 603 to 808. 

With 220 kindergarteners, Neshoba scored 530 on the assessment in the fall of 2018 and climbed to 808 in the spring of 2019.

The target end-of-year score for kindergarten is 681. This score categorizes students as transitional readers. Students scoring at this level are beginning to read unfamiliar words and easy reader material but are not yet independent readers.

Neshoba Central Elementary School Principal Tiffany Plott was extremely excited about the results, citing the hard work of kindergarten teachers and assistant teachers.

“We have some of the best kindergarten teachers and assistants that I have worked with in my 25 years,” she said. “They are phenomenal.  They work hard. They are constantly trying to get better. They are not scared to change something if it’s not working. They are constantly looking at the data, trying to find the holes.”

She also cited the work of the school’s interventionists and speech therapists “who work individually with students who have fallen a little bit behind.”

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right. The exam produces reports for parents and teachers that detail each child’s early reading skills. Teacher reports also include diagnostic information and instructional plans for every student.

Neshoba Central Kindergarten teacher Christy Barrett said teacher collaboration played a huge role in preparing their students for first grade.

She was excited to learn that the students scored so high on the assessment.

“It was a lot of hard work,” she said. “Teacher collaboration worked really well for me.”

Teachers often brainstorm as a team to see “what works really well and what doesn’t,” she said.

It’s important to know all the students and teach to their individual needs, sometimes in small groups, Barrett said.

Ms. Plott said she couldn't be more proud of the success that Neshoba Elementary has seen at all grade levels.

“I can't wait to get this new year started!’ she said.