Lee County ranked Successful

TUPELO – Lee County Superintendent Mike Scott says his district’s Successful ranking in the new state accountability standards is a verification of how dedicated the district’s teachers are.
“As far as the district is concerned, it means that what we are doing is right, what teachers are doing is right and the quality of instruction has improved,” Scott said.
The Successful ranking is the third tier in the new state model. According to Mississippi Interim Superintendent John Jordan, the ranking means that a school is meeting national averages. Forty percent of schools in the state were ranked Successful or better.
“Successful means successful,” Jordan said, “and we should cheer and applaud and praise our schools for that.”
However, the rankings were mixed for Lee County’s individual schools.
All three Mooreville schools, plus Saltillo and Shannon high schools, were ranked Successful.
Mooreville High School and Saltillo High School would have been High Performing schools if their graduation rates had been about 1 percent higher or if their Quality Distribution Index, which is based on test scores, had been a few points higher.
They could have been Star schools had both things happened.
“What really hurt them was the graduation rate, and they’re really making an attempt to catch those students and keep them in school,” said Debbie Pickens, Lee County secondary curriculum coordinator.
At the same time, the district had two schools At Risk of Failing – Plantersville Middle School and Shannon Middle School. At Risk of Failing is the second-lowest tier in the rankings.
Despite its ranking, Plantersville did show significant improvement from 2008, raising its QDI by 10 to 12 points from last year to 108. But despite those gains, the school did not reach the individual student growth goals set by the state.
“In my opinion, Plantersville’s ranking is a victory for us because they raised their level significantly from last year,” said Becky Hendrix, the district’s testing coordinator. “They are improving every year and they are doing all they can do, and they’re really working hard to increase their level of performance.”
Shannon Middle did not receive a QDI last year because it was then in its first year as stand-alone school not attached to the high school.
Lee County Middle School Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Mask said the district has been helping the school improve, taking steps like adding intervention teachers for the school.
“There has been improvement at both places,” Scott said, “and those teachers are working as hard as any we have in the district.”
Four schools were on Academic Watch – Guntown, Saltillo Elementary, Shannon Elementary and Verona. Of the four, only Verona met its growth.
“We are nowhere satisfied with where we are, and we won’t be satisfied until all of our kids are proficient and advanced,” Scott said. “And our teachers feel the same way.”
Proficient and advanced are the top two categories students can reach on their state assessment tests.
Overall, the district did meet its growth objective. It also improved its QDI by 10 points from last year.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal