Tupelo scores make big jump

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal Superintendent Gearl Loden kicks off the new school year with a district wide meeting of teachers at Tupelo High School Monday.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal
Superintendent Gearl Loden kicks off the new school year with a district wide meeting of teachers at Tupelo High School Monday.

By Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo could have its first ‘A’ school when the Mississippi Department of Education releases school rankings later this fall.

Tupelo School District Superintendent Gearl Loden said on Monday that early indications are that Lawndale Elementary could earn the highest designation in the state rankings.

Loden’s remarks came during the district’s 2013 Opening Ceremony, in which all of its teachers and staff reported to work for the first time in anticipation of school starting next Monday.

Telling the teachers to keep up their good work, Loden outlined how much the district expects each school’s Quality of Distribution Index to rise from last year. The QDI is determined by a formula based upon how students score on the state tests they took during the past school year.

The projection noted a 20-point increase for Lawndale, which would give the school a 201 QDI, high enough to be an ‘A’ school.

The district is expected to rise 17 points, Loden said. That would give it a 186 QDI, which would place it near the top of the ‘B’ range, the same grade the school district had last year. Then, however, it made the cut as a ‘B’ district by three points.

The state average, Loden said, is usually a four-point growth in QDI.

The projections are preliminary and can change, Loden said. They are based on early test data the school district has received. Schools also can still make appeals based on the data they have.

Final test scores and accountability rankings will not be made public until later this fall.

The biggest growth appears to be at Tupelo High School, which has a projected 36-point increase. That would give the school a 203 QDI, which could be high enough to be an ‘A,’ depending on the school’s final graduation rate. This year, graduation rate and QDI will be added together to determine the ranking of high schools.

Milam Elementary projected a 4-point growth to give it a QDI that will be right on the cusp of being ‘C’ or ‘B.’ All other schools project to be ‘B’ schools with QDI gains of between 10 and 20 points. Rankin Elementary could be near the cusp of being an ‘A’ school.

Last year, Tupelo had five ‘B’ schools and two ‘C’ schools.

The early numbers show “accelerated growth” across the district, Loden said, noting that all elementary grades appear to be higher than last year. He said last year’s fifth-graders had a combined projected QDI of 192.

“You are doing a wonderful job,” Loden told the teachers and staff.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com