September 26, 2013
districts ‘C’ or Successful
The Marshall County School District moved up a level based on state tests taken during the 2012-2013 school year.
The district progressed from a “D,” which was Academic Watch under the old accountability system, to a “C” or Successful this time around.
“We’re proud that we jumped a level as a district,” said superintendent of education Jerry Moore. “Rome was not built in a day. It’s great that our kids and our staff made steps in the right direction. We have new people and programs in place that are working well.
“We are a solid ‘C’ now, instead of one just teetering on the line of a ‘D,’ so we know next year we will not drop back a level, and hopefully we’ll move up.”
H.W. Byers Elementary and Byhalia Middle School each improved from a “D” to a “C” (Successful) and did “an awesome job,” Moore said.
Both met growth goals, which the Mississippi Department of Education develops based on individual scores. A formula determines what students are expected to score based on what they scored on past tests.
Byers Elementary, in particular, made huge strides in students scoring proficient and advanced, according to the superintendent. Its Quality Distribution Index rose 21 points, to 162.
QDI is a formula that measures how well students did on the state tests.
Byers was also honored nationally by being named a “High Progress Rewards School,” which is based on federal accountability results.
“It’s a huge deal,” Moore said. “We’ve never had one of those in our school district.”
He credited former principal Chris Ferrell, who has taken a new job in Arkansas, his staff and the students for their “outstanding work.”
Potts Camp Middle School, part of the rankings for the first time, was near the top of the chart with a “B” (High Performing).
Moore, with praises for the hard work, said Potts Camp Middle School’s QDI was 169, very close to being an “A.” It also met growth.
The Marshall County School District, as a whole, achieved the growth goal.
But at the same time, the county’s three high schools did not individually meet growth.
“That hurt the high schools (as far as their ratings),” Moore said.
Still, based on last year’s test results, Byhalia High School lifted its rating from “F” (Failing) to “D” (Academic Watch) and Potts Camp High School moved up from “D” (Academic Watch) to “C” (Successful). H.W. Byers High School dropped from “C” to “D.”
“Byhalia went up 27 in QDI points (to 150), the highest jump in the district,” Moore said. “The kids, staff and administrators did a good job. A lot of changes there paid off.”
The same held true for Potts Camp High School, he said, with a much improved QDI to 173.
Also, for the first time, graduation rates were figured into the rankings. That hurt the county’s three high schools, too.
The county’s graduation rate did improve – from 66.2 to 69.9 – but not enough. Byhalia’s four-year graduation rate was 69.2, Byers’ 68.5 and Potts Camp’s 72.9.
Moore said while he’s happy the county’s graduation rate went up, the in-district goal was 74 percent for the past school year and “we missed our goal.”
The goal is 80 percent in the next two years.
“We can do it and will,” he said.
Byhalia Elementary remained a “D” (Academic Watch) school but, on a positive note, did meet growth and increased its QDI for the first time in several years.
Galena Elementary stayed at the same level – a “C” (Successful) – and also attained growth.
Byers Middle School, in the rankings for the first time, graded a “D” (Academic Watch) and did not meet growth. But its QDI did increase by about 17 points.
Districtwide, a new Journeys Reading and Math Common Core Series is being phased into grades kindergarten through second.
“I think it will have a lot to do with increasing our proficiency ratings,” Moore said.
Plus, dual enrollment is up and going at the high school level.
He is also working toward an alternate type diploma.
“This will help some of our kids who are struggling, who might want to get into a technical school of some sort (rather than go to college),” Moore said.
The superintendent’s office received a positive letter from the Mississippi Department of Education and the state legislative audit team last week.
Of the 20 districts audited for academic programs, physical plant, buses, and school safety policy and procedure (all based on state guidelines or codes), the Marshall County School District was one of seven with “no deficiencies found.”
“We were really proud of that, as this was an audit of MDE coupled with outside auditors paid by the state Legislature to determine if districts were in compliance with their policies and regulations,” Moore said. “They will do 20 more this year, but we were pleased to have been one of seven that had no compliance issues.”
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