WAC graded B among state schools
Only 12% of school districts in the state received D or F grades according to data released by the Department of Education (DOE), though officials warn the pandemic played a role in schools’ improved letter ratings.
DOE’s Office of District and School Performance provides state, district, and school level accountability or performance measures on an annual basis to help stakeholders make decisions regarding areas of improvement and need within the state education system.
The Statewide Accountability System assigns a performance rating of A, B, C, D, and F for each school and district based on student achievement, student academic growth, graduation rate and participation rate. Statewide assessments measure proficiency and growth in proficiency for students on five levels -- minimal, basic, passing, proficient and advanced -- in grades 3-8 and high school students taking end-of-course subject area assessments in Algebra I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History. Schools and districts are expected to have an assessment participation rate of 95% or greater.
Due to pandemic disruptions, schools have not received new grades since 2019. Assessments did not occur in the spring of 2020, and while tests were administered in 2021, no accountability grades were given for student performance.
Many schools and districts saw significant improvement in their accountability score from 2019, but the education officials cautioned against year-to-year comparisons because of the impact of the pandemic on the data.
Wesson Attendance Center (WAC), which received a B grade, in Copiah County School District paced the performance of area schools along with Lincoln County School District’s West Lincoln School and Bogue Chitto School, which received A and B grades; Enterprise School District’s Enterprise High School and Enterprise Elementary, both rated A, and Enterprise Middle School rated B; and Lipsey School, which received a B in Brookhaven School District.
Enterprise School District, graded A, ranked among the top 10 rated school districts in the state. Among other area districts, Lincoln County School District and North Pike School Districts received B grades, and Cs were awarded to Brookhaven School District, Copiah County School District, Franklin County School District, Hazlehurst City School District, Lawrence County School District, McComb School District and South Pike School District. Among other area schools, Alexander Junior High School, Brookhaven High School, Hazlehurst Elementary School, Hazlehurst High School, Hazlehurst Middle School and Mamie Martin Elementary School received C grades.
State test performance decreased significantly in 2021, so when test scores returned to more normal levels this year, schools saw significant year-over-year growth. Since growth is a key metric used to assign schools grades, it is possible that many districts and schools saw increased overall grades because of that growth.
“Because the accountability system relies heavily on growth, it may be challenging for some schools and districts to maintain grades (in the future) that improved considerably in 2021-22 ,” said Interim State Superintendent of Education Kim Benton. Bottom of Form
Benton also pointed out that the graduation requirements were waived for students to pass some state tests in 2020 and 2021 and graduation rates were positively impacted. This trend will continue until all students who took those courses during the pandemic have graduated.
“We will likely see some variability in A-F grades over the next few years as the pandemic disruptions work their way out of our accountability system,” she said.
District superintendents expected this outcome, and says that accountability results should be taken “with a grain of salt” because of the pandemic disruptions. They said they hoped community members would be understanding as grades fluctuated and these disruptions worked their way out of the system.
While pandemic-related growth and waivers affected school grades, a quarter of all districts have increased reading and math proficiency since 2019.
With the exception of reading proficiency (45.2%), WAC students demonstrated proficiencies above fifty percent in math (53.1%), history (88.1%) and science (67.1%), with a growth rate of 56.8 percent and 73.3 percent in reading and math. WAC had an 89.9 percent graduation rate.
The ten highest rated districts for the 2021-22 school year are:
Long Beach School District
Clinton School District
Ocean Springs School District
Union County School District
Petal School District
Madison County School District
New Albany Public School District
Enterprise School District
Pass Christian Public School District
Rankin County School District