School Performance Up Slightly in Mississippi

Information released Friday by the Mississippi Department of Education shows 51 percent of the 152 school districts are successful, high-performing or considered a star district, the highest possible rating. Last year, that figure was 40 percent.

The rest of the school districts are under-performing.

Of the state's individual schools, 58 percent are successful or above. That's up from 49 percent in 2009.

The system is based on assessment tests, student growth and graduation rates, which are measured against the rest of the nation.

State education superintendent, Dr. Tom Burnham, said incremental progress has been made, but more work is needed.

The labels for school districts in east Mississippi are:
Meridian-At Risk of Failing
Lauderdale County-Successful
Newton County-Successful
Neshoba County-Successful
Kemper County-Failing

Meridian had one High-Performing school, one Successful school, four schools on Academic Watch, and four schools At Risk of Failing.

All Lauderdale County schools ranked Successful or higher.

"The credit goes to our principals, our teachers and our hard working students and our dedicated parents," said Lauderdale County superintendent Randy Hodges.

Meridian's interim superintendent, Dr. Randy McCoy, who came on board this summer, said the rankings for city schools does not mean progress is not being made.

He said this year 7 of the district's 10 schools achieved adequate yearly progress, which is also known as AYP. Plus, McCoy said four moved up one rating level, with two going from At Risk to Academic Watch, one from Academic Watch to Successful and another from Successful to High-Performing.

"Oakland Heights was 1/1000th of a point of making Academic Watch," said McCoy.

McCoy says, overall this year, the district is in what's called 'school improvement' status, due to a last minute change by the state which did not allow test scores from students with severe disabilities to be counted.

"We had 50 students in that category and our students did well," said McCoy. "The state chose to disallow all of those tests. Well, when they disallowed those tests, we went from being O.K. to going into 'school improvement'."

Dr. McCoy is now challenging the last-minute change with the state, in hopes of getting it overturned.

Meanwhile, he says improving test scores will continue to take time. To do this the district is focusing on teacher training and development and doing what you might call 'tailor-made teaching' for students.

"Now we do a lot of individualized instruction," said McCoy. "You don't teach the class any more; you really teach the individual students. We're making progress in the district."

Two of Kemper County's individual schools are Failing and a third is At Risk of Failing.

Those ratings, along with other problems in the Kemper County School District, are putting the system in danger of losing its accreditation.

State education officials are considering withdrawing the accreditation, after the system has consistently failed to fully comply with standards.

Kemper County schools missed eight of 37 accreditation standards this year. School officials say they have already corrected some of the issues.

Click the link below to view information about specific districts and schools.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • by Teacher Location: in the area on Sep 14, 2010 at 02:19 PM
    Anonymous you are correct--it begins at home. The public ed system doesn't get kids until they are 5 years old. That means, if someone hasn't worked with the kids during the first 5 years of their lives, the journey to a love of learning and a good education is so difficult--nearly impossible. If the kids have not already been taught respect and good manners, it is doubly hard on the teacher who is trying to move anywhere from 20 - 26 youngsters forward academically. I'm glad that I can retire soon because I cannot take much more of the disrespectful and ill-behaved students that we get who have never seen a book, let alone know some of their letters and numbers. Teaching in public ed these days has gotten so difficult and stressful, nearly all of the joy has been completely obliterated.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM
    It begins at home and has to continue at home.There is only so much that can be done in a school day. I agree it up to the parents and other family members if they see the need is not being met by the parents. Stop point fingers and shaking heads and roll up YOUR sleeves to make a difference. Don't think it's not your problem. If some of these children drop out of school what do you think they will be doing with their time during the day while you are at work ? An Idle Mind.... I think you know the rest!
  • by sue Location: kemper on Sep 13, 2010 at 08:20 AM
    It time for Kemper County to move up and stop worry about other stuff, I see why so many wants their kids to go to other school,
  • by ME on Sep 11, 2010 at 07:57 PM
    MOST of the parents of the children who don't care about school do so because they don't have to care about school- Momma is at home living MUCH better than the teachers that are teaching her children. Why on earth would the kids want to take school seriously? They don't have to! They know that the government is going to take care of them...They see this EVERYDAY! Until this changes it is going to be HARD for MPSD to move their ratings up, but it WILL happen! There are way too many dedicated people in the district and if you were to observe you would see all of the wonderful things going on in the district. Way to go MPSD!
  • by Newton on Sep 11, 2010 at 02:52 PM
    for the two anonymous newton city school has always been a good just up to the kids and their parents so their is no WOW!!!
  • by Diogenes Location: Meridian on Sep 11, 2010 at 08:01 AM
    Am I missing something??? Fifty students with "severe disabilities" prevented the Meridian Public School District from doing "OK". Have we dropped to the level where students with "severe disabilities" are performing better than "normal" students. I am not by any means attempting to deminish or trivalize the performance of the students with "severe disabilities." I commend them. However, for Dr. McCoy to use them as the reason the MPSD is still performing poorly is shameful.
  • by Citizen Location: Meridian on Sep 11, 2010 at 07:26 AM
    Is anyone really surprised that Meridian is "at risk of failing" ??? For 2 years Charlie Kent, literally gave ownership of the school to the reprobates and ill-behaved students, and gave no support to hard working teachers. His lack of leadership largely to blame. MPSD's levels had begun to come up during Mrs. Autry's service. Mr. Kent's time here turned out to be disastrous for the district. Hopefully, a great candidate for permanent superintendent will emerge soon. Meanwhile, the interim and at least a few principals to be doing a great job and need our support. Anonymous, you are right about the tests. Even the MCT2 for 3rd-8th grades has a high level of rigor and difficulty. Mischa, it's a shame there is no way to FORCE parents to do right by their children educationally--a real shame! It's the kids who will suffer the longterm effects.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 10, 2010 at 07:22 PM
    I am glad to see the increase. I wish some of the people who are so critical would take the English II test. There are practice tests on-line at the MsDept of Ed. That might help some of the general public to understand why students have so much trouble with this test. I have students that do much better on the ACT than on this test. English II teachers understand this ...other people do not.
  • by Mischa Location: Meridian on Sep 10, 2010 at 05:03 PM
    If Meridian had more competent administrators who are actual LEADERS and care about the schools, there would be an improvement. Also, there are too many parents who do not make their kids understand that school is for learning and is to be taken seriously. The teachers receive so much flack from everybody- parents, students, and administrators. Who is actually supporting the teachers and helping with discipline? Congratulations to the other successful school districts.
  • by anonymous Location: Newton County on Sep 10, 2010 at 04:23 PM
    Wow Newton CITY!!!!!
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