Area's 'report cards' show cause for concern

September 14, 2012 12:23:14 PM

Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]


The grades are in, and in some cases, the results aren't pretty.  


The Mississippi Department of Education released district and school "report cards" for 2011-2012 today, with a change in classifications and a spate of low marks.  


The state switched to a letter-grade system for its accountability model this year, abandoning the seven-tiered rankings system it has used for the past three years. As a result, three school classifications -- low-performing, at-risk of failing and failing -- now equal the same letter grade: "F." 


Classifications of star, high-performing, successful, and academic watch have been replaced with corresponding letter grades of "A," "B," "C" and "D," respectively.  


The grades were based upon achievement, as measured by the Quality of Distribution Index (QDI), and academic growth. The lowest possible QDI is zero and the highest score is 300. For growth status to be met, students must perform as well or better than expected on state tests, based upon their performance the previous year.  


Only three of Mississippi's 152 school districts received an "A" this year -- Clinton, Enterprise and Pass Christian.  


Statewide, "A" schools increased by 22 percent and "B" schools increased by 17 percent. Fewer schools and districts received "D" and "F" classifications this year. The state average QDI is 154. 


Around the Golden Triangle, scores mostly mirrored those of last year, with few dramatic gains and a handful of plummeting grades. 


The state Board of Education is expected to approve the 2012 Accountability results at its meeting today. 






The Columbus Municipal School District remains on academic watch, receiving a "D" classification and failing to meet growth standards for the third consecutive year. The district's QDI dropped from 143 to 142. 


Only two schools in the district, Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School and Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School, met growth status, and none of the district's seven schools received an "A" or "B," despite several QDI gains. 


Both Cook and Franklin improved their rankings from academic watch to successful -- the equivalent of a "C." 


Sale Elementary International Studies Magnet School, the only school in the district last year to meet growth standards and rank as high-performing, slipped down the rungs, receiving a "C" despite raising its QDI from 179 to 188.  


Fairview Elementary Aerospace and Science Magnet School and Stokes-Beard Elementary Technology and Communication Magnet School remained the same as last year, both receiving a "D." Fairview dropped its QDI from 148 to 140, while Stokes-Beard posted a small QDI improvement, from 147 to 152. 


Columbus Middle School, which was not ranked last year due to the merger of Hunt Intermediate and Lee Middle School, earned a "D," with a QDI of 139. 


Columbus High School, which was on academic watch last year, dropped to low-performing, receiving an "F" this year and seeing its QDI plummet from 147 to 123.  


The graduation rate also dropped from 72.4 percent to 69.7 percent.  




Lowndes County 


The county school district saw similar results as last year, remaining at high-performing for the second consecutive year and receiving a "B." The district met growth status, with a modest QDI increase from 169 to 175. 


The district's star continues to be Caledonia Elementary School, which held on to the top rank for the third year, receiving the district's only "A" and raising its QDI from 202 to 210. 


The biggest mover this year was New Hope Elementary School, which rose from academic watch to high-performing, receiving a "B." The school's QDI jumped from 164 to 180. 


But West Lowndes Elementary School dropped from high-performing to successful, receiving a "C" and decreasing its QDI from 168 to 165. 


Among the middle schools, Caledonia, New Hope and West Lowndes received a "B," "C," and "D," respectively, with little change in QDI.  


The high schools followed the same trend, with Caledonia High ranking successful once more, receiving a "C," but dropping its QDI from 176 to 174. New Hope High School remained on academic watch, receiving a "D," and West Lowndes High School remained low-performing, receiving an "F" this year, despite increasing its QDI from 109 to 121.  


New Hope High School posted the highest graduation rate, at 75.5 percent, while Caledonia High had a 71 percent graduation rate and West Lowndes had a 67.7 percent graduation rate. The district average was 73.1 percent, down from 78.9 percent last year.  






The Starkville School District saw few changes this year. The district remained successful, receiving a "C" and raising its QDI slightly from 151 to 155.  


Henderson Intermediate School, Ward-Steward Elementary and Starkville High School also received a "C."  


Henderson increased its QDI from 144 to 158, Ward-Stewart saw a big leap from 148 to 164, and Starkville High dropped from a QDI of 177 to 163. 


Armstrong Middle School, last year's success story, dropped from successful to academic watch, receiving the district's only "D." Armstrong's QDI dropped from 152 to 149. 


The district's graduation rate saw slight gains, increasing from 69.8 percent to 71.8 percent.  




Oktibbeha County 


Oktibbeha County's scores were across the board, ranging from "B" to "F," with the district rising from low-performing to academic watch, receiving a "D." The district QDI improved from 109 to 126. 


Both elementary schools improved, with East Oktibbeha Elementary rising from low-performing to successful, receiving a "C," and West Oktibbeha County Elementary rising from successful to high-performing, receiving a "B." Each posted QDIs of 136 and 176, respectively. 


But both high schools received failing grades and did not meet growth status. East Oktibbeha County High School's QDI dropped from 96 to 94, and West Oktibbeha County High School's QDI dropped from 104 to 101.  


The district's graduation average was 59 percent, with 60.9 percent graduating from East Oktibbeha and 53.6 percent graduating from West Oktibbeha.  




West Point  


West Point schools continued to struggle, with all receiving failing or barely passing grades that mirrored last year's results.  


The district remained on academic watch, receiving a "D." The QDI decreased slightly from 142 to 139.  


Fifth Street Junior Elementary and South Side Elementary remained on academic watch, both receiving a "D," while Central School and West Point High School received an "F." 


The high school saw a marked drop in QDI, from 156 to 129. The graduation rate was up slightly, from 59.5 percent to 61 percent.  




Clay County 


The Clay County School District's sole school, West Clay Elementary, ranked as high-performing again this year, receiving a "B" and meeting growth status. The school raised its QDI slightly from 168 to 171. 




Noxubee County 


Noxubee County schools fared poorly on state accountability tests this year, with the district dropping from academic watch to low-performing, receiving an "F." The district QDI dropped from 136 to 130.  


B.F. Liddell Middle School also received a failing grade, dropping its QDI from 126 to 125.  


The remaining three schools -- Earl Nash Elementary, Wilson Elementary and Noxubee County High School -- all dropped from successful to academic watch, receiving a"D." 


No schools within the district met growth status.  


The sharpest QDI decrease was seen at the high school, which posted a QDI of 148 this year, compared with 182 last year.  


The high school's graduation rate also dropped, from 69.7 percent last year to 64.8 percent this year.

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.