Thursday, September 16, 2010
School districts rise in ratings
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall County School District is a Successful one.
The latest state accountability ratings were released last week and the district has taken a step up the ladder from Academic Watch to Successful.
“This is a great accomplishment for our school district,” said Don Randolph, superintendent of education. “We have worked very hard to have good schools in our county, and now we want to move toward a High Performing and Star rating (the highest two). We congratulate our entire staff for accomplishing this rating. It was a team effort.”
As far as individual schools, four of eight were rated Successful.
Galena School showed the greatest growth in the district, going up three notches on the ladder from At Risk of Failing to Successful.
“I’ve been doing this 15 years, and I’ve never seen a school jump three levels in a year,” said Jerry Moore, testing coordinator and deputy superintendent of education. “It’s impressive. They did a bang-up job. The administration, the staff, the parents and the community at Galena (K-8) all got involved.”
Byhalia Middle School and H.W. Byers Elementary both improved from At Risk of Failing to Academic Watch. H.W. Byers High School and Potts Camp remained Successful. Mary Reid Elementary is also Successful.
Byhalia Elementary’s Quality of Distribution Index (QDI) was up but it did not meet growth. QDI deals with the percent of children moving up to advanced or proficient. It’s a “flat-cut” score, Moore said.
The state sets the bar for growth.
“It’s like a high jump,” Moore said. “You have to get over that bar every year.”
At Byhalia High, the story was the same - QDI up but not enough growth, specifically in English.
Moore, like Randolph, said the district’s Successful rating is because “everybody rolled up their sleeves and went to work.”
“Congratulations to our teachers and administrators,” Moore said. “They did a great job.”
Randolph pointed out that the Marshall County School District was able to raise its rating with a shortfall of funds and no tax increase.
“We were able to tighten our belts and save the taxpayers’ money,” Randolph said. “We did not reduce our budget in the academic area. Our plan was not to give up our academic integrity, even when we were not budgeting money for school buses or roof repairs in order to balance our budget.”
Moore said federal grant money was the savior for the district.
“It’s a temporary fix, but we did not have to cut positions,” he said.
Randolph said the district remains in good financial standing, even though state funding has been reduced $3 million over the last two years.
“Many districts are capped at 55 mills, while we remain at 37.56 mills,” he said.
Randolph said he is confident the present group of administrators, who have concentrated on hiring highly-qualified personnel, will raise the schools even higher. He also thanked the school board members for their support.
“We must provide our students with the best learning environment possible,” he said.
The superintendent emphasized the importance of the Successful rating to the county as a whole.
“I hope our county ambassadors can boast about our schools’ Successful rating and use this for recruiting business and industry,” he said. “Also, we hope our parents, community and churches will rally with us and support our schools.”
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