LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - Laurel Magnet School of the Arts is the silver lining of the Laurel School District’s accountability rating. It’s the only school in the district to earn an “A” rating.
Principal Kiana Pendleton said it’s been more than a decade since the school reached the highest level of the accountability rating. She said it took an uncommon approach to make the school’s "A" rating happen.
“What we call differentiating instruction blocks where from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. the entire school is shut down and every teacher, your nontraditional teachers, your art teacher, your p.e. teacher, your music teacher, they are all inside of a classroom during that time to work with our students,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton said this intense and intentional instruction involves two to three teachers addressing students based on testing data. Pendleton said the pre-k through fifth grade school made the grade and set the standard.
"That’s one unique aspect about our school is that everyone had a part in this historical "A" rating," Pendleton said.
Laurel School District Superintendent Toy Watts said the magnet school achieving an "A" is not a one-and-done situation. She said they will spread this momentum to the rest of the district, which received an "F" overall rating. Watts said there’s more going on inside the district than the label of a "F" can show.
“But, also when we are a “F”, we know that we have old data mixed in the “F”. So, everything that contributed to that "F" was not particularly this past school year,” Watts said.
Watts said the accountability model is complicated, but the district’s future isn’t. She said good things are happening in the district and will be reflected soon.
“It appears that we’ve gone up in math, and we had one of our schools that was a "F" that’s now a "D" and it grew 41 points, and at the high school, their successes will not be evident until next year’s accountability model,” Watts said.
Watts said with the district having strong leaders and finally being fully staffed, they have a strong foundation to build on.
“We’ve restructured so we can focus. We are going places, and this will be the last year of the "F". I’m certain,” Watts said.
The Laurel School District is only three points away from moving up to a "D" on the accountability model.