Jefferson Davis County improves to a C

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mississippi’s public school districts and schools showed broad improvement under the state’s letter grading system in 2018-2019.

The number of A-rated districts rose from 18 to 31 in data published last Tuesday, while the number of districts earning a C, D or F rating fell.

The state board of education approved the ratings in a meeting last Thursday.

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J.E. Johnson Elementary School improved from an F last year to a C this year.

G.W. Carver Elementary School dropped to a C from a B.

Jefferson Davis High School improved to a C from a D, as well as the overall district as a whole.

“Our accountability system is working,” state Superintendent Carey Wright told reporters. “It also shows you how well our schools are doing. Teachers and principals are doing exactly what we want them to do. They are doing an amazing job of teaching our children.”

One of the state board of education’s goals is for every district and school statewide to be rated C or better. This year, 70% of districts and 74% of schools were graded C or better.

The four-year high school graduation rate rose to 84% from 83%, while test scores improved and more high school students enrolled in accelerated courses statewide. Those measures aided districts’ improved ratings.

Some rural schools that teach grades K-12 or 7-12 benefited from a change in the scoring system meant to put them on level ground with four-year high schools.

In all, 31 districts were rated A, 35 districts were rated B, 35 districts were rated C, 23 districts were rated D, and 19 were rated F. More than a third of districts improved a letter grade.

The department of education releases these ratings each year to measure how well school districts are doing in terms of student achievement and progress. These A-F ratings are assigned based on multiple factors.

At the district and high school level, ratings are sorted out according to growth and proficiency on a number of tested subjects including reading, math, science and U.S. history, along with graduation rates, ACT scores and participation in accelerated programs like AP courses or dual enrollment.

Elementary and middle schools are graded similarly, minus the graduation rates and higher-level testing.

In the past, schools with a 12th grade were graded on a 1,000 point scale, and schools without one were graded on a 700 point scale.

This meant, generally speaking, that high schools used one scale and elementary and middle schools used the other. This year is the first in which non traditional high schools — high schools that include grades beyond the traditional grade 9-12 model — received an adjusted score.

As a result, every school that was adjusted earned a higher point total, and 43 of the 80 schools earned a higher letter grade, according to the department.