Both Lee County schools were ranked as Star, or "A," according to results released today by the Mississippi Department of Education. Star is the highest of seven classification levels, based on student results on state tests taken last school year.
"This is a big deal to our district to have two high schools reach this level," said Lee County Testing Coordinator Debbie Jones.
The Lee County School District as a whole maintained a Successful rating, the same rank it has had each of the three previous years. Successful is the third highest level.
A new state law converts the ratings to letter grades, making Successful a "C" ranking. The results are still unofficial, but the state Board of Education is expected to approve them at its meeting today.
"I'm extremely pleased with the schools where we improved and the ones where we maintained our accreditation level," said Superintendent Jimmy Weeks. "We do have some schools that are not where we'd like to see them, but our curriculum department and teachers have already worked on plans to improve."
This year was the first time Lee County had any Star schools. Statewide, 80 schools earned that status, as did 12 in Northeast Mississippi.
"We have an excellent staff here with teachers," said Saltillo High School Principal Tim DeVaughn. "They bought into the concept three or four years ago of teamwork and working together in the different subjects."
Mooreville High School Principal Lee Bruce said the rating is a confidence booster for the school.
"It is a big honor and it shows how hard our teachers worked last year and how hard our students worked last year and what kind of community support we had," Bruce said.
Both schools benefited from the MDE's decision not to use graduation rates while ranking schools and districts this year as it has done in past years. Had those been used, they would have been High Performing, or "B."
Lee County met its growth target again, as it has done all four years the MDE has used the current system to rank schools. That target measures whether individual students are showing as much improvement on the tests as they are expected to.
"It is about getting kids where they are and taking them as far as they can go," said Lee County Federal Programs Director Casey Dye.
Guntown Middle and Mooreville Elementary schools were each ranked High Performing, or "B," the second highest level, and Mooreville Middle and Saltillo Elementary schools were Successful, or "C."
Plantersville Middle, Shannon Elementary, Shannon Middle and Shannon High schools each ranked Academic Watch, or "D," while Verona ranked Low Performing, or "F." Low Performing is the fifth of the seven levels.