Meadows: TPSD can be High Performing

TUPELO – Tupelo’s interim superintendent believes the district can make a big jump in its state rankings over the next year.
David Meadows gave school board members last week a list of targets to use in measuring the district’s student performance for the next year. The board had requested Meadows’ input as it sets its goals.
Meadows first listed goal was for the district and all of its schools to be ranked High Performing by the Mississippi Department of Education next fall. That ranking would be based upon the results of state tests students will take in spring 2012.
The other indicators Meadows presented to the board were that each of the district’s schools meet their growth targets, that the district improves the percentage of its students scoring in the top two categories on the state tests and that it improves its graduation rate and decreases its dropout rate.
High Performing is the second best of seven rankings in the state’s accountability model. Tupelo is currently ranked Academic Watch, the fourth highest ranking, meaning the district would have to jump by two levels to meet the goal.
“We are very hopeful our schools could move all the way from Academic Watch to High Performing,” Meadows said.
The school district’s current level is based upon state tests from the spring of 2010. Pierce Street Elementary, Milam Elementary and Tupelo Middle schools are ranked Successful – the third best ranking – while Lawhon Elementary, Lawndale Elementary, Rankin Elementary and Tupelo High School are ranked Academic Watch.
The district and its schools will receive new rankings, based on last spring’s tests, in mid-September. Rankings are only given to schools with grades three and above, since those are the only grades that take state tests.
The state rankings are based upon how students score on those tests and whether schools or districts meet their growth targets, which are set by how students are expected to perform based upon past performances.
Districts and schools that meet growth targets are bumped up one level in their ranking. Tupelo has not met growth in either of the first two years that the state has used this model to rank schools.
Meadows believes the district has taken steps, including improving its curriculum, that will allow it to meet its target this year.
“We feel good that we will focus directly on those objectives and skills students need to show growth,” he said.
Meadows said that he will speak at future board meetings about targets for improving student and staff attendance and about ways for the district to best use technology.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal