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TUPELO • Unofficial letter grade accountability results from the Mississippi Department of Education revealed that the Tupelo Public School District and Lee County School District each received a B rating.

For Tupelo, the rating maintains its previous one, while Lee County School District’s rating shows an improvement from a C rating last year.

“Our teachers did an outstanding job, so I’m real pleased with the outcome,” said Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Rob Picou.

Lee County Schools Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said he was happy with the overall improvement. He mentioned several areas, such as reading growth, math growth, science proficiency and English language progress as areas for improvement.

“While we do have room for improvement, we do have some areas we are proud of. Our teachers worked hard and our students worked hard, which is why we improved a letter grade,” Weeks said.

There were five schools with an A rating in the Tupelo Public School District: Carver Elementary School, Pierce Elementary School, Thomas Street Elementary School, Lawhon Elementary School and Early Childhood Education Center.

Joyner dropped from its previous A rating to a B this year, while Carver moved to an A rating. Of the 12 Tupelo Public School District schools included in the data, none scored below a B, with both Tupelo High School and Tupelo Middle School receiving a B rating.

Picou said students scoring at or below the 25th percentile are often in poverty, and this represents a demographic TPSD needs to give continued focus.

“That’s our biggest opportunity for growth,” he said.

In the Lee County School District, two of the 14 schools included in the accountability results received an A rating: Mooreville Elementary School and Saltillo Primary School. Only one high school, Mooreville High School, received a B ranking, with Mooreville Middle School, Guntown Middle School and Saltillo Elementary School also receiving a B grade.

Weeks emphasized that while tests are one metric of measure, they may not accurately reflect a student or teacher’s ability and progress. He listed the English language program as an example: while a student may come into the program with little English language skills and be able to grow a lot over the school year, that may not appear in a standardized test assessment. Additionally, he also spoke of how sometimes the bottom 25 percent does not reflect the work that occurred for students in a year.

“Growth is such a big part of this accountability model, and with a lot of your really high (performing) students, the possibility of them to grow is almost impossible,” Weeks said.

Mooreville High School was the highest ranking high school, as Saltillo High School received a C grade and Shannon received an F. A total of three schools received an F ranking, while four total schools in the Lee County School District received a C letter grade.

Weeks said that for the schools that did not score well, they would break the data down and see areas where the schools did not score well. He said they would break it down into individual skills to teach incoming students and reteach outgoing students so that they better understand and are prepared for classwork, their school grade and state assessments.

The 2018-2019 accountability results are based on an A-F scale that looks at state tests and student growth. High school ratings include graduation rates, participation and college and career readiness. Improvement by students who scored in the bottom 25 percent the previous year receive extra weight.

The accountability results will become official after Mississippi State Board of Education approval on Thursday.

danny.mcarthur@journalinc.com

Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_

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