Petal, Lamar Co. schools remain in the state's Top 10

By BETH BUNCH AND HASKEL BURNS,

Unofficial results from the 2017-18 statewide accountability ratings, released last week by the Mississippi Department of Education, show that two area school districts are still ranked in the top 10 in the state.

The ratings, which will be formally approved by MDE officials next month, rank the Petal School District at No. 2 in the state – with 750 points out of a possible 1,000 – behind only Enterprise School District. The Lamar County School District received 698 points, good for No. 8 in the state.

Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District, said even though Petal ranked No. 1 overall last year, the district placed No. 1 in the state this year in English Language Arts and Math. This year’s 750 points also is up from last year’s 738.

“I think what’s important is that we controlled the categories in the accountability model that we could control, and that was proficiency,” he said. “I’m very proud that we grew in all four proficiency categories as a district – ELA, Math, U.S. History and Science.

“Last year, we were No. 1 in Math and No. 2 in ELA, and this year we’re No. 1 in ELA and No. 1 in Math. So I’m very proud of the efforts of our faculty and staff, and the way our students responded to their teaching, for us to be No. 1 in proficiency across the state.”

As far as individual schools, Petal Primary School ranked 14th in the state with 555 of 700 possible points, while Petal Elementary School ranked 16th with 552 points out of 700. Petal High School ranked 8th in the state with 791 points out of a possible total of 1,000, although Dillon said that can be misleading because of the inclusion of a junior high school in the Clinton Public School District that includes a ninth grade.

“I think you have to eliminate that to be fair,” he said. “It’s a stand-alone high school – it’s not a 9 through 12 – so it’s hard to measure. If you’re looking at apples to apples, I think we’d be 7th.”

In Lamar County, Superintendent Tess Smith thinks the results are phenomenal.

“I am always proud of my county and my district, but it is nice to have added reasons for that pride,” she said.

With the consolidation of the Lumberton School District into LCSD, Smith will have three more schools to factor in for next year’s scores.

She noted that teacher collaboration across schools within the district has been  underway since the first of the school year and will provide additional support to Lumberton teachers.

Scores for Lumberton included a C grade and an 85th ranking for the now-defunct district with a score of 555 points out of a possible 1,000; a D and 208th-place ranking with 509 of 1000 points for Lumberton High School; and a B or 295th ranking with 389 of 700 points for Lumberton Elementary.

As far as other LCSD schools, Oak Grove High School, A, 3rd place, 820 of 1,000;  Longleaf Elementary, 55, A, 502 of 700; Oak Grove Primary, A, 60, 497 of 700; Oak Grove Lower Elementary, 84, A, 484 of 700; Oak Grove Upper Elementary,  106, A, 470 of 700; Oak Grove Middle, B, 211, 425 of 700;

Sumrall High School, B, 66, 688 of 1,000; Sumrall Elementary, A, 131, 455 of 700; Sumrall Middle School, A, 137, 451 of 700;

Purvis High School, B, 80, 666 of 1,000; 57, A, Purvis Lower Elementary, 498 of 700; Purvis Upper Elementary, B, 177, 436 of 700; Purvis Middle, B, 241, 413 of 700;

Baxterville School, B, 164, 441 of 700;

The Forrest County School District received 596 points out of 1,000, for a ranking of 65th, while Forrest County Agricultural High School received 606 points for ranking of 54th.

Hattiesburg Public School District ranked 120th in the state, with 499 points of a possible total of 1,000. Superintendent Robert Williams said district officials will focus on four strategies going forward: aligning curriculum, instruction, assessments and professional development throughout the district; promoting early learning and literacy; strengthening pathways to college and career opportunities; and sustaining the staff and bolstering recruitment efforts.

“As a district, we are working continuously to improve student performance and the culture of our schools,” he said. “Our plan includes an intentional focus on programming for academic success and supporting teachers as they provide quality teaching and learning experiences for students. We know that sustainable change takes time.”

There were 651 700-point schools and 244 1,000-point schools.