Thursday, September 20, 2012
Two city schools High Performing
The students and staff in the Holly Springs School District are celebrating, for the second year in a row, great news from the Mississippi Department of Education.
Based on the official release of accountability results and school levels, two of the schools in the district moved up a level from Successful to High Performing, the second highest rating a school can achieve in Mississippi.
The seven labels given to schools and districts by MDE from lowest to highest are Failing, At-Risk of Failing, Low Performing, Academic Watch, Successful, High Performing and Star. Three factors can determine the label for a district and school – individual student achievement, growth, and the graduation rate, if applicable.
Holly Springs High School, under the leadership of principal Cedric Richardson, and Holly Springs Junior High, under the leadership of former principal Louise Sanders-Tate, both received the prestigious title of High Performing. Holly Springs Intermediate School, under the leadership of principal Debbie Jeffries, strengthened its Successful rating for the second year.
Overall, the district also strengthened its Successful rating for the second year. All schools and the district increased their student achievement index and met the state’s growth requirement. The graduation rate for the district improved significantly as well.
“We’ve earned bragging rights,” said school board president Fergenia Hood, “The facts speak for themselves. We are hiring good, certified, dedicated teachers and administrators. The graduation rate is up, test scores are up, and there are fewer behavioral problems. We’re almost hitting a home run. We just need to wake up the community and parents and get them engaged. The 1,500 students who attend Holly Springs School District belong to all of us. We need the community and parents to advocate for them and help us to brag a little.”
Dr. Irene Walton Turnage, superintendent of Holly Springs School District, agrees.
“The improvements made by the leadership, staff, and students have been nothing less than remarkable,” Turnage said. “Only a few years ago, the Holly Springs School District was labeled At-Risk of Failing. The district has moved multiple levels over the last few years, rivaling many traditionally high-performing districts with the percentage of schools receiving the High Performing status. It is a testament to what can be done when the school board, administration, staff, parents and students have the same vision and work together to achieve it. We are very grateful, but we also know there is still much work to be done.”
The vision, according to Superintendent Turnage, is to be a Star District with all Star Schools, which is the highest rating a school and district can obtain in the state.
The increase in test scores, graduation rates and other indicators of success are changing the culture of the district and its perception in the community and state, according to assistant superintendent Eileen Dowsing.
She said, “The district has been contacted by school personnel in other districts in the state to learn more about the things that are helping us to be successful. The Holly Springs School District is getting attention across the state as a district that is progressive and knowledgeable about what it takes to transform schools in the area of student achievement. But what is more important is that our students, parents and community are starting to believe in us. Working together, there is no task too great for us to accomplish, including becoming a ‘Star.’ ”
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