Pine Belt schools receive accountability grades

Pine Belt schools receive accountability grades
(Photo source: WDAM)

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Pine Belt school districts are reviewing new report cards from the Mississippi Department of Education.

MDE released the letter grades for schools and districts based on Mississippi's A-F accountability system Thursday. The system evaluates how schools and districts performed in the 2016-17 school year.

"I could not be more proud of our faculty, staff, students and our community as a whole," said Superintendent Matt Dillon.  "We have great things going on here and this is just affirmation that we are doing some very good things and moving in a very good direction"

The Lamar County School District is also celebrating improvements in the last year, moving from a "B" school to an "A" grade this year.  The district is ranked seventh in the state, out of 146 districts.

Some Pine Belt superintendents are not pleased with the results from MDE's new system, including Wayne County Superintendent Bob Jones.

"Of course I'm disappointed, we had hoped to do a lot better," Jones said.

The Wayne County School District dropped from a "C" grade last year to a "D" grade this year.  Jones said the system is a complicated one to master.

"You get those scores, then how do you keep those scores? It's hard to grow that kid every year when he's already at the top," Jones said.

Jones said the grades do not highlight "all the great things" going on in the Wayne County School District, including improvements in ACT test scores and kindergarten readiness.

"Our ACT scores went up this year, our graduation rate has gone up this year, our third grade reading has gone up," Jones said.  "We've got a lot of great things going on in this school system."

"I don't want the public to really dwell on the fact that we've gone down," Jones said. "We are a work in progress and that's something we really want everyone to understand."

The Covington County School District also saw a drop, from a "C" to a "D."

The Hattiesburg Public School District, Lumberton School District and Laurel School District all remained a "D" grade.

District grades for 2016-17 include 15 "A" districts, 43 "B" districts, 43 "C" districts, 36 "D" districts and 9 "F" districts.

According to MDE, the grades factor in how well students perform and progress from year to year on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program  tests for English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics.  The accountability system also looks at science, history and ACT tests.

To view the grades for each school in the state, take a look at the document below.