HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi Department of Education officially released letter grades for schools and districts on Friday, showing more districts earning an A and fewer districts earning an F for the third consecutive year.
Although more schools earned an A, that only totals to 12% for the entire state of Mississippi.
A total of 40% of school districts in the state of Mississippi received an A or B letter grade. Although the percentage for schools who received C, D, or an F grade is greater, 53 school districts did improve at least one grade level since last year, but on the down side a Hattiesburg school recorded a failing grade.
Out of 151 school districts in the state of Mississippi, a total of 18 school districts earned an A this year, a significant increase from three districts in 2012. Two of those districts who earned an A letter grade for state testing's are Petal and Lamar county.
"We're very, very pleased and not surprised," said Petal School District Assistant Superintendent, Dede Smith. "We anticipated that we would be successful."
"Parents are our children's first teacher and we feel like the parents of Lamar County do a good job of teaching their child," said Lamar County School District Superintendent, Ben Burnett. "Also all research shows that the biggest factor in academic achievement is the success of the classroom teacher."
Both Laurel and Hattiesburg School Districts received a C letter grade. Although it's not a high test grade, they did have achievement and academic growth.
"Three years ago we were a 111 QDI, we were not performing very well, and to go from a 111 to a 147 to meet growth consistently as a district says so much about our students, about our teachers," said Laurel School District Superintendent, Chuck Benigno.
Out of the 151 districts, 87 schools received an F. One of those schools included Hattiesburg district, Lillie Burney Elementary. In a recent published article, board member Bill Jones of Petal cited the elementary and said, "It is not in a poor district by any definition, but...failing? It's a sin."
"I just say that there's a lot of variables that often times people who are not working within the district, you know, don't know about. I invite people to come in and visit our schools," said Hattiesburg Public School District Assistant Superintendent, Edna Thomas. "There's a lot of things that go into play with educating a whole child that sometimes people who are not in education don't see."
Failing or passing grade, for now districts are preparing their students for Common Core testing which will be in 2015.
To view the complete 2013 Accountability results for school and districts, click HERE.