September 13, 2013 11:43:08 AM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
For the second year in a row, the Columbus Municipal School District has been rated a "D" by the Mississippi Department of Education. The Lowndes County School District maintained its "B" rating.
For the Columbus school district, a D grade means the school is on academic watch for the third consecutive year. The district's rating is based on achievement, the Quality of Distribution Index (QDI) and academic growth. The highest QDI score possible is a 300. CMSD earned a 141 QDI while the LCSD earned a 185.
CMSD issued a press release Friday morning and said that although they were rated a "D" the school prevailed in growth and achievement.
"Even though Columbus Municipal School District received a "D" rating, both growth and achievement were prevalent. Overall, the district missed meeting its growth by a composite score of .091 which would have resulted in a "C" rating," the release stated.
The schools were scored individually and then combined to reflect the total. Columbus High (134 QDI), Columbus Middle (137), Cook Elementary (145) and Stokes-Beard Elementary (152) each earned a "D."
Columbus High's QDI increased 11 points from last year, removing it from its "F" standing.
Fairview Elementary and Franklin Academy each scored a "C" with QDIs of 151 and 158. Fairview, which was rated a "D" last year, saw a QDI increase of 11 points. Sale Elementary was the only school in the district to earn a "B" with a QDI of 175. Sale also increased on the grade scale, jumping from a "C" to a "B."
Fairview, Franklin and sale all met the growth targets set by MDE.
Despite the D rating, CMSD officials insist the school is changing in a "positive way."
"Although the district as a whole received a 'D' rating and a QDI of 141, we are seeing change in a positive way," Friday's press release said. "This year's data reveals that there is a great need to work towards meeting or attaining growth. Cook Elementary and Stokes-Beard missed meeting growth by .03 of a point each. Our goal is for all schools to meet growth this year."
In addition to trying to meet targeted growth, the district said it plans to focus on professional development and instructional support.
"We are being very proactive with a definitive focus this school year as we attend to the individual needs of the schools," the release stated. "We have an intense professional development plan in place geared towards improving teaching strategies, increasing rigor in the classroom, and utilizing data to identify the lowest 25 percent of our students. We are working to provide instructional support to this group in addition to providing differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all learners. Support systems have been put in place to monitor student achievement across the district."
Lowndes County is considered a "high performing" district with a QDI of 185, a 10-point increase from last year. Caledonia Elementary is rated an "A" district with a QDI of 215. It is the fourth straight year Caledonia Elementary has been rated as a "star" school. New Hope Elementary, New Hope Middle and West Lowndes Elementary each earned a "B" with a QDI of 190, 171 and 178 respectively.
Caledonia Middle and Caledonia High School had QDIs of 190 and 193 but were rated a "C" because they failed to meet their growth rate. West Lowndes High received a "C" with a QDI of 152, making a big jump from last year's "F" rating, while West Lowndes Middle earned a "D." West Lowndes Middle earned a 152 QDI but failed to meet its growth rate.
New Hope High School moved from a "D'' to a "C" with a QDI of 173.
County assistant superintendent Dr. Robin Ballard explained the significance of QDI, saying, "QDI stands for Quality of Distribution Index and is a measurement of student performance on a particular day. It measures how well schools move up in scores from one level to another; like from basic to proficient or from proficient to advanced. It's about knowing where your students are, what each particular student's score is, pin-pointing deficits in individual students, and then formulating and executing a plan of action for growing that student."
Breaking down the QDI score for each school, Ballard said, "WLHS grew 31 points to a QDI of 152 moving it from a F school to a C rated school. NHH had the next highest growth in their QDI of 173 with a gain of 20 points. CHS grew 19 points to a QDI of 193. NHMS grew 15 points, yielding them a QDI of 171. WLE grew 13 points giving them a QDI of 178. WLM has an 11-point gain with a QDI of 151. NHE grew 10 points to a QDI of 190.
"CES has the distinction of holding a high performing designation for the longest sustained time in the state. While our QDIs show positive growth as a whole school, some school subgroups did not show enough growth which prevent schools from moving up in rankings of A, B, C, D, F."
With the LCSD ranked 34th among Mississippi's 151 school districts, Ballard said the district is celebrating its accomplishment while looking at ways to improve.
"From a district vantage-point, it's about looking for trends in scores in the student population as a whole, then by campus, by grade, and finally by the teacher," she said. "This data is used to inform professional development and instruction. In LCSD, our early-release Wednesdays are vital to translating this data into action through continuous embedded professional development.
"The 2013 QDI results of 185 indicate that each of our nine schools had a positive gain in QDI with at least a two digit QDI gain in seven of our nine LCSD schools.
"We are so pleased with our growth that is reflective of the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of our faculty and staff and we have many reasons to celebrate."
Noxubee, West Point
Noxubee County School District once again earned a failing grade. Its QDI dropped from 130 to 126 and the district failed to meet its growth level.
West Point School District remains on academic watch with a "D" rating. Its QDI increased from 139 to 146.
New Hope Elementary.............B
New Hope Middle....................B
New Hope High.......................C
West Lowndes Elementary......B
West Lowndes Middle.............D
West Lowndes High.................C
Stokes Beard Elementary........D
A - Star; B - High Performing; C - Successful; D - Academic Watch;
F - Failing
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah