School district earns ‘A’ rating

From Press & Staff Reports


The Webster County School District received an “A” rating when the Mississippi Department of Education released state accountability levels Friday.

The WCSD is one of the 18 school districts in the state that are “A”-level districts and is ranked 17th in the state out of the 151 districts.

Superintendent of Education Jack Treloar credited the relentless efforts of the principals, teachers and students in achieving the “A” rating, and commended them on a job well done.

“It takes a lot of hard work and remaining focused on the curriculum to achieve such high marks,” he said. “I am very proud of each of our schools and we know that they are moving in the right direction.”

The state Board of Education approved the 2013 accountability results at its meeting Friday. The accountability model measures student performance on rigorous curricula and assessments. Schools and districts received performance classification letter grades of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” and “F.”

The county district was rated a “B” last year, when only three Mississippi school districts earned an “A” rating. Both of the county’s high schools were upgraded from “B” to “A” schools this year. East Webster Elementary remained a “B” and Eupora Elementary School improved from a “D” to a “C.”

Classifications included achievement and academic growth or improvement.  Achievement is measured by the Quality of Distribution Index, with the minimum QDI zero and the maximum at 300. The county district’s QDI is 191, up from 176 last year, while the state’s QDI is 168, up from 162 in 2012.

Growth, on the other hand, is based on whether students demonstrate performance equal to or better than expected based on how they performed the previous school year. U.S. History and grades 5 and 8 Science were included in the achievement component this year. All county schools and the district overall earned a “met” rating with regard to growth, with Eupora Elementary improving from a “not met” designation.

A press release from the WCSD included these statements from the individual schools about their honors:

East Webster High School

East Webster High School has received the status of Star school and will receive a grade of A by the Mississippi Department of Education for the 2013-14 school year. Both are the highest state education rankings.

This comes as a result of increased test performance in almost every subject area of the spring 2013 Subject Area and Mississippi Curriculum Testing. Rankings are based on a Quality of Distribution Index formula, or QDI, that takes into account students’ academic growth, achievement and graduation rate.

East Webster set a district record with a QDI of 214, leading the way for the Webster County School District being named a Star district. The school increased its QDI a total of 18 points from 196 to 214

At East Webster, seventh-grade test scores in Language Arts (Lauren Smith) and math are ranked 11th and ninth in the state, respectively, out of 281 schools. Eighth grade (Gaye Wilson and Carolyn Henley) is ranked 16th overall in the state. Eighth-grade science (Dabnee Slay) had a QDI of 249, making it the highest QDI in the state.

Ninth through twelfth also saw much success in their scores and moved a total of 100 points from 2,012 to 2,013. U.S. History (Lavelle McAlpin) students increased their scores from a 183 to a 196, good for a ranking of 30th overall in the state. Algebra I (Carolyn Henley) scores improved from a 206 to a 234, ranking 23rd statewide. English II (Katie Vandewege) students showed an increase of 32 points from a 179 to a 211 ranking fifth overall in the state. Biology I (Mandy Jewell, Renee Moore) saw an increase from 192 to 219, ranking sixth overall.

“We are very proud of how our students performed on the state tests. A lot of hard work by the students and teachers paid off and showed really incredible results,” said EWHS Principal Bill Brand. “We had over 50 students win state championships this past year, and we also exceeded expectations in the classroom – a very well-rounded school year.”

After the championships the school has won in cheerleading, softball, bowling and tennis during the school year, East Webster also touts impressive rankings in academics as well.

Eupora High School

When Eupora High School students and teachers received the results of their 2012-13 state standardized assessment tests this year, there was a lot to smile about. The test results showed what faculty, staff and students at Eupora High School were hoping for: EHS reached STAR “A” school status! Eupora High School raised its overall QDI from 185 to 194.

Although reaching STAR status was an unspoken goal, Eupora High School remained focused on the students and not the numbers. The small-school, small-town atmosphere at Eupora High School not only helps the students to feel a sense of belonging and pride in their school, but also helps to create a sense of pride in a job well done.

According to EHS Principal Laci Knight, “We are so proud of everyone at Eupora High School for this accomplishment. We have great kids who work hard and an outstanding staff who goes over and beyond every day. It takes every one of us pulling in the same direction to meet our goals, and that is what we do. Reaching STAR status is a complete team effort and I commend all teachers and students on reaching this goal.”

East Webster Elementary

East Webster Elementary School earned a QDI score of 191, which places it at the performance category of High Performing, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

East Webster Elementary School has consistently held the performance category of High Performing for the past 10 years, however the 2013 QDI score of 191 is the highest level of achievement in the school’s history.

The performance classification that is assigned to a school or district is determined by (a) the percentage of students who are performing at criterion levels (minimum, basic, proficient and advanced) and (b) the degree to which student performance has improved over time (based on expected growth value for the school). The results from the Achievement Model and the Growth Model are combined to assign performance classifications as follows: Star School, High Performing, Successful, Academic Watch, Low Performing, At-Risk of Failing, Failing.

Principal Jim Ray states, “To be named a High Performing school is a great accomplishment that only comes about due to much hard work and dedication on the part of our teachers, faculty and students. We are very pleased to turn out steady high scores year after year, nonetheless we are currently working to achieve Star status for the 2013-2014 school year.”

He added, “We are grateful for the partnership we have with parents and are always encouraged by our community support. We are thankful for the vision of our school district and for the support of our School Board. The leadership and support we receive is vital to our success.”

Eupora Elementary School

Faculty and staff of Eupora Elementary are beyond proud of their 2012-2013 MCT2 results. The school earned its highest QDI since the state implemented the QDI system in 2007. The school’s QDI of 165.4 took it out of Academic Watch/“D” status into Successful School /“C” status. The school was one-tenth of a point from reaching the High Performing /“B” status.

Many teachers saw the highest test scores of their careers, while others saw tremendous growth among their students. Amanda Richardson tied her highest score (151.4) on the third-grade Math Test. Helen Culpepper and Teresa Morton had their highest score (151.9), highest QDI (173) and highest QDI growth (+43 points) on the fourth-grade Language Arts Test. Robin Hunter had her highest score (154) and highest QDI (172) on the fourth-grade Math Test. Angela Gray grew her fifth-grade Math students 47 QDI points. Randee Jernigan had the highest sixth-grade Math QDI (200) ever at EES.

Principal Trey Rolison, credits the accomplishment to his teachers and students. “I challenged my teachers when I arrived here to raise the rigor of education and teach like they have never taught before,” he said. “They answered that challenge and then some. Our students did a phenomenal job of stepping it up in the classroom, as well. I couldn’t be more proud to say that I am a part of Eupora Elementary School.”

Graduation Rates

In an MDE press release, Dr. Lynn J. House, interim state superintendent of education, said the main factor contributing to the rise in “A” districts was that graduation rates were added back to the accountability model, and for the first time, graduation rates applied to all districts. Previously, graduation rates only applied to the higher-performing districts that fall under grades “A” and “B.”

In 2012, at the request of the Accountability Task Force, the Mississippi Board of Education suspended the use of graduation rates in the accountability model to allow for the development of a fair and equitable system that held all districts and schools accountable.

“Districts have worked diligently at keeping students in schools and helping them to graduate. The schools, districts and communities should be commended for their hard work and accomplishments around student achievement,” House said.

“While we are pleased to see the double-digit increase in the number of “A” schools this year, we know that more work must be done to help our lower-performing schools,” said Dr. Wayne Gann, chairman of the board. “We must continue to provide resources and assistance to schools so that all students have the opportunity for higher achievement.”

For the 2012-13 school year only, the board approved two methods to calculate the graduation component of the accountability system. The first method used the five-year graduation rate/High School Completion Index and the second method used the four-year graduation rate. The school/district received the higher performance classification based on the results of the two methods. The High School Value is the QDI added to the four-year graduation rate.

Locally, the five-year graduation rates were 80 percent for EWHS and 78.8 percent for EHS.

The 2012-13 school year marks the last time that QDI, HSCI, HSV and five-year graduation rates will be used. A new accountability model has been proposed, and was to be released for public comment following last Friday’s Mississippi Board of Education meeting.

The 2013 results reflect a five-year trend of increasing numbers of top-performing schools and decreasing numbers of lower-performing schools. The letter grading system will provide communities a clear understanding of how their schools and districts are performing upon full implementation of the more rigorous college- and career-ready standards in 2014-15, according to the MDE.