Passing Grades

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mostly passing grades in county schools
Dept. of Education releases letter grades

By Billy Davis and Rupert Howell

South Panola schools scored a “C” district-wide, and North Panola schools scored a “D” overall, according to academic results released last week by the Miss. Department of Education.

Countywide, public schools accumulated five “C’s,” five “D’s” and one “F,” at Crenshaw Elementary.
Education officials are using the familiar “A” to “F” grading system for public schools and their districts for the first time.

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The state Department of Education released letter grades September 14, touting scores that show “double-digit improvement” among schools in the “A” and “B” classification.

“We are pleased to see the improvements that have been made in our schools and districts,” said Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent. “It’s a testament to the hard work of the total school community.”

The Department of Education tweaked its seven rankings by dropping two classifications and matching the rest to five letter grades, so “A” is now “Star School” and “F” is “Low Performing.”  

The state legislature approved the new letter grading system during its most recent term.
North Panola is listed as “Academic Watch” and South Panola is “Successful” according to the state Department of Education.

Public schools in Mississippi also receive a Quality Distribution Index, or QDI, to gauge the previous year’s achievements. Data used for the QDI include MCT2 test for English and math in grades three through eight, and Subject Area testing in high school in Algebra I, English II, Biology I and U.S. History.

The QDI also measures “growth,” an evaluation of the school’s ability to improve upon student achievement from the previous year.

Each year principals and teachers anticipate if their school “met” growth or gets labeled “not met” by the Department of Education.

“Growth” gets the most complaints from school staff because even schools that show improvement from year to year may fail to show enough to meet the next target, which hurts their QDI number.
Four of five schools at North Panola “met” growth.

At South Panola, two schools did not—South Panola High School and Batesville Middle School.

According to most recent figures, Batesville Junior High scored highest QDI in Panola County with 160 points.

The second-highest score was 153 at South Panola High followed by Como Elementary with QDI of 152.

The lowest QDI was at Crenshaw Elementary, where that school has enjoyed participation in the Barksdale Reading Program. The QDI at Crenshaw was 122 according to state statistics.

North Panola District’s  QDI average was 132 and for South Panola district-wide, it was 153.

Mississippi has 161 school districts of which only four were graded with an “A” and another 28 received a “B,” according to The Clarion-Ledger.

Fifty Mississippi school districts were a “C” while 48 were labeled a “D.” Another 27 districts received an “F.”

Schools earning an “A” increased by 22 percent and “B” schools increased 17 percent according to the Department the Education.

Compared with other states, Mississippi historically has endured bottom-rung student achievement.

After the academic results were made public last week, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves stated there is more work to be done to improve Mississippi’s public schools.

Reeves praised schools that showed improvement “but with 66 percent graded at C or worse, clearly the Legislature’s work to reform our educational system is only beginning,” he said.

The lieutenant governor also praised the new grading system, stating that it “gives parents and communities an honest picture of where their district stands.”