More students at area schools scored proficient and advanced in most grade levels on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition, test schools released Thursday by the state Department of Education showed.

The assessment results will help determine performance classifications for schools and districts using the state's accountability model.

Schools will be classified from highest to lowest, A-F. The 2013 school and district performance classifications will be released Sept. 13 following Mississippi Board of Education approval of the results.

School superintendents said they were pleased with the test results but acknowledged there were still areas targeted for improvements.

In language arts, Neshoba Central had more students scoring proficient and advanced in the third, sixth, seventh and eighth grades than the state average.

Union had more students at proficient and advanced than the state average in the third through seventh grades in language arts.

In mathematics, Neshoba had more students in the top levels in the third, sixth, seventh and eighth grades than the state average.

There were more fourth graders scoring proficient and advanced than the state average in mathematics at Philadelphia Elementary School.

Grades three through seven at Union had more students at the top performance levels than the state average in mathematics.

The MCT2 is given to students in grades three through eight in English language arts and math.

It was first implemented in the 2007-08 school year to assess the state's more rigorous standards.

Dr. Terry Larabee, superintendent of Philadelphia Public Schools, said he was very pleased with his district's results but noted there was still room for improvements.

Curriculum coordinator Lee Ann Fulton agreed.

"We are not where we want to be but we are moving in the right direction," Fulton said. "Our scores showed us many bright spots and at the same time, we identified some gaps. Administering common assessments three times a year has allowed us to fill in gaps during the school year.

"We hope our teachers, parents and students see that their hard work paid off and will use that as momentum to carry us forward. "

Tommy Dearing, superintendent of Neshoba County Schools, said he too was proud of his district's test scores.

"I'm proud of what the students, teachers and parents have accomplished," Dearing said. "They made progress but there's more to come."

He credited a lot of "hard work" from everyone involved for the improvements seen in his district.

Now the plan is to find areas to improve and work on them, he said.

"We're analyzing the data and zeroing in on areas of improvement," Dearing said. "Then the teachers will work on those areas."

 Ray Perry, interim superintendent at Union Schools, was also proud of his district's accomplishment.

 "I'm real pleased," he said. "This is the culmination of a year of effort from everyone."

 Perry said his district would now look at the progress that was seen and create response intervention teams to provide extra help for students in need.

 "One area, the seventh and eighth grades, did not score as high as others," he said. "This is not unusual for junior high but we plan to get those scores up to the level of the others. We're working on that."

Students in higher grades were tested in Algebra I, Biology I, U.S. History and English II.

High school students must earn a passing score on each test to be eligible for graduation.

The test results represent first-time test takers. Students generally have up to three opportunities each year to earn a passing score on the SAPT2 exams during high school.

Neshoba Central had a 77 percent passage rate in Biology, 87 in Algebra, 83 in History and 78 in English.

Philadelphia saw a 73 percent passage rate in Biology, 79 in Algebra, 76 in History and 62 in English.

Union had a 93 percent passage rate in Biology, 99 in Algebra, 79 in History and 81 in English.