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Poplarville School Board hears state accountability results

ACCOUNTABLITY: Poplarville School District Federal Programs Director Konya Miller presented the results of the 2013-2014 state accountability scores at Monday’s board meeting.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

ACCOUNTABLITY: Poplarville School District Federal Programs Director Konya Miller presented the results of the 2013-2014 state accountability scores at Monday’s board meeting.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


The Poplarville School District School Board heard a presentation from Federal Programs Director Konya Miller concerning the 2013-2014 state accountability results.
Superintendent Carl Merritt told board members he was very pleased with the district’s performance, considering this year was the inaugural year of the state’s new accountability model.
Miller said the accountability system is based on proficiency, meaning the percentage of students who meet the goals for reading, math, science and U.S. History at the high school.
“It’s also broken down into are we growing our students from one year to the next in reading and math and then are we doing what we need to be doing for our students at the bottom percentile,” Miller said. “The graduation rate is also included in that model and 95 percent of our students must be tested or the district’s score would go down a level.”
Last year, Miller said, the state applied for a waiver since this year was the enactment of the new standards, which allowed districts to retain the higher rating received during the 2012-2013 school year. Poplarville’s 2013 rating was higher than 2014’s C, so the district retained their B rating.
The Poplarville High School earned an A, the Middle School a B and the Upper and Lower Elementary a C, with the waivers.
According to Miller, the district scored higher than 60 to 100 percent of the other schools in the state. The graduation rate is 84.8 percent, which is the highest in the county, Miller said.
“New for 2015, there is a literacy based promotion act that’s about to come into play,” Miller said. “It means new assessments with kindergartners and an additional assessment for third graders.”
According to Miller, if proficiency levels aren’t met, there will have to be some justified calls made about whether or not the student will ascend to the fourth grade. There is no social promotion, Miller said, meaning the children cannot be passed based on age alone.
When children entered kindergarten, they take an assessment test on a computer, Miller said. This gives us information about where our children are coming from.
The benchmark score regarding reading levels was 530, Poplarville’s average was 485 and the state’s average score was 501, Miller said.
“It gives us a realistic expectation about where they are and data about which direction we needed to be headed with those children,” Miller said. “We are taking a good look at what we can do by working with programs such as Excel by 5 and Headstart.”
All of the juniors will be taking the ACT test on March 3, Miller said, which is paid for by the state and gives the students an extra chance to take the college entrance exam.
Miller applied for a K-3 Literacy grant and hopes to employ interventionists at schools to help the bottom 25 percent of children who are struggling.
The district is working with parents to gain their involvement to assess the needs of the children, Miller said. One example of this type of involvement is workshops.
“It’s all about good quality instruction,” Miller said. “Our biology scores at the high school were 659, which puts us second in the state. The highest score is 660. We’re working to identify that bottom 25 percent and intervening early. The district’s score was in the top 20 as far as districts go. That tells us we’ve got the potential to keep moving our students forward and we’re doing things to get us there.”
Merritt told the board that even under the new accountability model the district came close to earning the highest ranking possible.
In other action the board approved:
– The acceptance of a Career Development Health Sciences Technology project grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation.
– The acceptance of a Growing Lunch A School Garden grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation.
– The acceptance of Mississippi Department of Education non-traditional grant to be utilized as an enrichment program for career development.
– The acceptance of a K-3 Literacy grant from the state. Funds will be utilized to hire support staff.
The next school board meeting will be held on February 8 at the district’s office on Julia Street.