County school districts earn B’s in annual assessment

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Mississippi Department of Education released the school district accountability scores for the 2015-2016 school year this month.
All three school districts within Pearl River County earned an average accountability grade of B under the new accountability model, according to the MDE report.
The Picayune School District earned a B overall, under the first year of the Mississippi Assessment Program.
According to the results, Nicholson and Roseland Park Elementary Schools and Picayune Junior High School earned C’s, while Picayune Memorial High School, South Side Upper and Lower Elementary Schools and West Side Elementary School earned B’s.
“Our students, teachers and administrators have been working very hard,” Picayune School District Superintendent Dean Shaw said. “I’m proud of all of them…we are committed and dedicated to improving our scores.”
Last year, the district was ranked as a C average as the state prepared to change to the new assessment formula while in its final year of a waiver program that allowed districts to keep the previous year’s grade.
“We are really excited about what’s going on in our district,” Shaw said. “I give the credit to every employee in our school district.”
According to a press release from the Picayune School District, the Board of Trustees hired a consulting group to work with the schools to reach state standards.
Shaw said he is looking forward to future growth in the district.
The Pearl River County School District also earned a better grade this year, earning a B average in the district, and placing 29th in the state, Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said.
“We’re extremely excited about the success of our schools,” Lumpkin said.
Pearl River Central Junior High earned an A, while the high school earned a B and the upper and lower elementary schools earned D’s, according to the MDE report.
In response to the elementary school’s lower grades, Lumpkin said, “With the new accountability model, the focus is on different areas.”
He added that, despite placing in the top 10 in the state’s 3rd Grade Gate program, the elementary schools are shifting their focus from proficiency to the personal growth of each student, Lumpkin said.
“It’s just a validation, like a good report card,” Lumpkin said. “It’s validation to the students. We celebrate our successes with them as well.”
Lumpkin said the district is doing a lot of work to promote communication between teachers, the administration and leadership teams.
“Parents also play a big part. We ask a lot of our students and our staff members…we have high expectations,” Lumpkin said. “Pearl River County should be very, very proud,” because they are earning great dividends on their tax dollars.
The Poplarville Separate School District also earned a B average, with the upper elementary and high school earning B’s, and the lower elementary and middle school earning C’s, according to the report.
“We’re very pleased where we are…we knew this year was going to be a challenge,” Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt said.
Poplarville also earned a B rating during the previous year under the state’s waiver program.
Poplarville Curriculum Director Tonya Miller said the new accountability program places a lot of focus on growth, especially in the areas of reading and math.
After finishing the first year under a new system, Merritt said, “now we know what we’re looking at and what the state expects…we know where the mark needs to be.”
Merritt said Poplarville is working to improve communication between classrooms and the administration by personally observing classes and ensuring the best practices are used.
“We’re very proud of Pearl River County and excited for [the other districts],” Merritt said. “We’re all in this together.”

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About Julia Arenstam

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