Turner Smith, 11, a student at Milam, receives help on his work from his challenge teacher Anissa Caldwell, on Wednesday in Tupelo. With accountability ratings being released Thursday, Milam moved up from a “C” to an “A” school.

TUPELO – Only three of Northeast Mississippi’s 29 public school districts earned an “A” rating from the Mississippi Department of Education for 2017.

Those three top-rated districts are the Booneville, Oxford and Union County school districts.

The Mississippi State Board of Education approved the letter-grade ratings Thursday. Schools and districts are rated on an A-F scale each year based largely on state test scores.

While Booneville and Oxford have consistently been “A”-rated districts for several years now, Union County was previously rated a “B.”

Among individual schools across the region, 24 received an “A” rating. Of those, four schools moved to an “A” in 2017 from a “C” rating in 2016, including Tupelo's Milam Elementary, Pontotoc Middle School, Starkville's West Elementary and Vardaman Elementary.

“The challenge now is to maintain it,” Milam principal Paul Moton said of the school’s “A” rating. “...You can’t be an ‘A’ rated school without having parental support, awesome teachers, district-level support and a great group of kids – that’s the key.”

Overall, 16 Northeast Mississippi school districts were rated “B,” eight were rated “C” and two were rated “D.”

Both the Tupelo Public School District and the Lee County School District received “B” ratings, which is an improvement from last year for Lee County. The district received a “C” rating in 2016.

Jimmy Weeks, superintendent of the Lee County School District, said he was pleased with the district's rating as well as all of its individual school ratings.

“This is Lee County’s first time as a 'B,' and I am very, very proud of the teachers and administrators and all of the hard work they put in," Weeks said. "But we are never satisfied, so we are going to continue to identify areas of improvement and design ways to meet those needs and work on those and try to continue to improve from year to year."

TPSD was rated a “B” district in 2016.

Despite the district’s rating remaining a “B,” TPSD Superintendent Gearl Loden said he feels like the district is competitive with the top districts across the region and state.

Loden pointed out that last year, TPSD was 36 points from an “A” rating, and this year, the district was 30 points from being labeled an “A.”

“It’s exciting to know that you’re showing progress toward your goal,” Loden said. “Our ultimate goal is to continue to improve.”

Statewide, district grades include 15 “A” districts, 43 “B” districts, 43 “C” districts, 36 “D” districts and 9 “F” districts.

This year’s accountability grades are based, in part, on how well third-grade-through-high-school students perform and progress from year to year on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) tests for English and math.

A particular emphasis is placed on the lowest performing 25 percent of students.

The accountability system also factors in how well students perform on science tests in the fifth and eighth grades.

Accountability grades for high schools and districts include the four-year graduation rate; student performance on Biology, U.S. History and ACT tests; and student participation and performance in advanced coursework, such as Advanced Placement and dual credit/dual enrollment courses.

Schools and districts are awarded points based on all of these factors, which add up to a total score equal to a particular letter grade.

“These results reflect the progress and achievements students have made on state assessments, the ACT, advanced courses and the state’s rising graduation rate,” said Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Teachers, principals and district leaders have been diligent in their work to help students meet higher academic standards and achieve better outcomes.”

The latest accountability data was used to set a new baseline to determine the score thresholds for earning each letter grade in order to correct artificially high growth rates from the previous year’s data.

For the 2017 accountability grades, districts and schools have been awarded the highest grade they were able to achieve based on current thresholds or the new baseline. The highest grade is the official grade, though both possible grades have been published for transparency.

2017 Northeast Mississippi accountability rankings

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
District/School Name 2016 Grade 2017 Official Grade
Aberdeen School District C C
Aberdeen Elementary School B D
Aberdeen High School C B
Belle Shivers Middle School N/A F
Alcorn School District B B
Alcorn Central Elementary School D C
Alcorn Central High School B A
Alcorn Central Middle School B C
Biggersville Elementary C C
Biggersville High School C C
Kossuth Elementary School A A
Kossuth High School B A
Kossuth Middle School B B
Amory School District C B
Amory High School B B
Amory Middle School D B
East Amory School C B
West Amory School D C
Baldwyn School District B B
Baldwyn Elementary School A A
Baldwyn High School C B
Baldwyn Middle School C B
Benton County School District C B
Ashland Elementary School D C
Ashland High School C B
Ashland Middle School D D
Hickory Flat Attendance Center C B
Booneville School District A A
Anderson Elementary School A B
Booneville High School B B
R.H. Long Booneville Middle School B A
Calhoun County School District C C
Bruce Elementary School B D
Bruce High School C C
Bruce Upper Elementary School C C
Calhoun City Elementary School D D
Calhoun City High School C C
Calhoun City Middle School C C
Vardaman Elementary School C A
Vardaman High School C C
Chickasaw County School District D D
Houlka Attendance Center D D
Holly Springs School District C C
Holly Springs High School B C
Holly Springs Intermediate School F D
Holly Springs Junior High School D D
Holly Springs Primary School C D
Houston School District C B
Houston High School C B
Houston Lower Elementary C B
Houston Middle School C B
Houston Upper Elementary C B
Itawamba County School District B B
Dorsey Attendance Center D C
Fairview Attendance Center C C
Itawamba Agricultural High School B A
Itawamba Attendance Center B B
Mantachie Attendance Center C C
Tremont Attendance Center B B
Lafayette County School District B B
Lafayette Elementary School B B
Lafayette High School B A
Lafayette Middle School B B
Lafayette Upper Elementary School B B
Lee County School District C B
Guntown Middle School C B
Mooreville Elementary School C B
Mooreville High School A A
Mooreville Middle School D C
Plantersville Middle School F D
Saltillo Elementary School D B
Saltillo High School A C
Saltillo Primary School D C
Shannon Elementary School D D
Shannon High School C C
Shannon Middle School F C
Shannon Primary School D D
Verona Elementary School C C
Marshall County School District C C
Byhalia Elementary School (K-5) B C
Byhalia High School (9-12) F C
Byhalia Middle School (6-8) D B
Galena Elementary School (K-8) F D
H. W. Byers Elementary (K-5) D F
H. W. Byers High School (9-12) D C
H. W. Byers Middle School (6-8) C D
Mary Reid School (K-3) B C
Potts Camp High School (9-12) C B
Potts Camp Middle School (4-8) B C
Monroe County School District B B
Hamilton High School C B
Hatley High School C C
Smithville High School C B
Nettleton School District C C
Nettleton High School B A
Nettleton Junior High School C C
Nettleton Upper Elementary School C D
New Albany Public Schools B B
New Albany Elementary School B A
New Albany High School B A
New Albany Middle School B B
North Tippah School District C C
Chalybeate Elementary School C C
Falkner Elementary School C D
Falkner High School C B
Walnut Attendance Center C C
Okolona Separate School District F D
Okolona Elementary School C C
Okolona High School F D
Oxford School District A A
Bramlett Elementary School N/A A
Della Davidson Elementary A A
Oxford Elementary School A A
Oxford High School A A
Oxford Intermediate School B B
Oxford Middle School A A
Pontotoc City School District B B
D T Cox Elementary School B C
Pontotoc Elementary School B C
Pontotoc High School B A
Pontotoc Junior High School A B
Pontotoc Middle School C A
Pontotoc County School District B B
North Pontotoc Elementary School B C
North Pontotoc High School C C
North Pontotoc Upper Elementary C B
South Pontotoc Elementary School B B
South Pontotoc High School B B
South Pontotoc Middle School B C
Prentiss County School District B B
Hills Chapel School B B
Jumpertown High School B C
Marietta Elementary School B A
New Site High School B A
Thrasher High School B D
Wheeler High School C C
South Tippah School District B B
Blue Mountain High School D C
Pine Grove High School B B
Ripley Elementary School B C
Ripley High School B A
Ripley Middle School C C
Starkville- Oktibbeha Consolidated School District C C
Armstrong Middle School D D
Henderson/Ward-Stewart Elementary B F
Overstreet Elementary N/A C
Starkville High School B B
Sudduth Elementary School N/A N/A
West Elementary School C A
Tishomingo County School District B B
Belmont School B B
Burnsville Elementary C B
Iuka Elementary School C D
Iuka Middle School B C
Tishomingo County High School C B
Tishomingo Elementary B C
Tupelo Public School District B B
Carver Elementary School A C
Joyner Elementary School B C
Lawhon Elementary School B B
Lawndale Elementary School B B
Milam Elementary School C A
Parkway Elementary School C C
Pierce Street Elementary School B B
Rankin Elementary School B C
Thomas Street Elementary School A C
Tupelo High School B B
Tupelo Middle School C B
Union County School District B A
East Union Attendance Center B B
Ingomar Attendance Center C B
Myrtle Attendance Center C B
West Union Attendance Center B B
West Point Consolidated School District D C
Central School C C
Church Hill Elementary School N/A N/A
Fifth Street School F C
South Side Elementary School C D
West Clay Elementary School D D
West Point High School C B

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