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School districts receive As and Bs

Mississippi school accountability grades were released Thursday by the Mississippi Department of Education.

MDE assigns schools and districts a grade of A through F based on student progress in English language arts, math, science and U.S. history—as measured by the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program, according to a departmental press release. The grades also take into account progress English learners make toward achieving English proficiency, high school student ACT test scores, student participation and performance in advanced placement and dual credit classes, and four-year high school graduation rates, the release states.

The grades are a report card for the community to see how schools are performing academically, said Pearl River Central School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin. Lumpkin said his District also uses the data from the scores to make decisions about where the District needs to improve and to target academic goals.

Schools are offered incentive funding through the state’s School Recognition Program for achieving an A or B, or for improving by one letter grade from the previous year, according to the Mississippi Department of Education accountability FAQ.

Schools that improve a letter grade receive $100 per student, an A rated school receives $100 per student and a B rated school receives $75 per student. Schools that both improve a letter grade and receive an A or B only receive incentive funds once. The funds are equally distributed to certified staff, teachers and counselors, at the school. Administrators do not receive incentive funds.

Across the state, 70 percent of districts were rated C or higher, the release states.

Pearl River Central

The Pearl River Central School District received a B rating, as it did in 2018. The District was seven points away from an A rating, Lumpkin said.

Pearl River Central High School received an A rating, an improvement from its B rating in 2018. The high school went from an 87.9 percent graduation rate in 2018 to a 90.2 percent graduation rate in 2019.

Pearl River Central Junior High received a B rating and Pearl River Central Elementary received a B rating.

Lumpkin said he believes the improved ratings reflect that the school is data driven and uses data to make decisions about curriculum improvements.

“The academic success of our school District is a total team effort from the students, to the teachers, to the support staff, to parents and members of the community,” Lumpkin said.

Ensuring students can get to school, are well fed and feel safe at school are all necessary to allow students to learn, Lumpkin said.

District administrators are currently reviewing the ratings and will use the data to create an improvement plan for the next school year, which will be presented at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 10, Lumpkin said.

Poplarville

The Poplarville Separate School District received an A rating, a letter grade improvement from its 2018 B rating.

The Poplarville High School received an A rating, as it did in 2018. The Middle School of Poplarville received an A, moving up a letter grade from its 2018 B.

Poplarville Lower Elementary received a B in the school years ending in 2018 and 2019. The Upper Elementary School received a C, moving down a letter grade from its 2018 B rating the year prior.

A request for comment from Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt was not returned by press time Monday.

Picayune

The Picayune School District received a B, moving up a letter grade from its 2018 rating of a C.

Picayune Memorial High School received a B, as it did in 2018. The Picayune Junior High received a B, improving a letter grade from the C it received in 2018.

South Side Lower Elementary received a B—decreasing a letter grade from the A it received in 2018. West Side Elementary received a B—improving a letter grade from the C it received in 2018. South Side Elementary School received a B, Nicholson Elementary received a B, and Roseland Park Elementary received a C, so all three schools maintained the same grades they received in 2018.

The Early Head Start at the Nicholson campus and the Early Head Start on Rosa Street both received B’s, as they did in 2018.

A request for comment from the superintendent was not returned by press time.