Schools earn passing grades

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 5, 2003

Lincoln County schools showed considerable gains in stateaccountability testing, according to preliminary results releasedby the State Board of Education Thursday.

In the past, the Mississippi School Accountability Model wasgauged on district performance, but for the first time this year’saccountability held individual schools responsible for meeting itscriteria.

“Schools stand individually now. Every principal and everyteacher is now graded on how well they do,” said Dr. Sam Bounds,superintendent of the Brookhaven Public School System.

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Schools are graded and classified into one of five levels, withLevel 5 being the best. Level 3 is considered to be average, oracceptable.

Each level is based on academic achievement on the MississippiCurriculum Test or Subject Area Test Program and on growth, whichis indicated by showing significant improvement from the previousyear based on statistical expectations, according to Perry Miller,superintendent of the Lincoln County Public School System.

The Mississippi School Accountability Model is the state programto ensure schools comply with the federal No Child Left BehindAct.

@Subhead:Brookhaven Schools


Bounds said he was “very, very pleased” with how well hisdistrict performed on the tests. Lipsey School was awarded a Level4 classification while the other schools in the district receivedLevel 3 classifications.

Lipsey students scored well on the MCT and exceeded their growthexpectations to receive the higher classification.

Bounds said he and Assistant Superintendents Dr. Lea Barrett andJames Tillman visited the school Thursday and called a staffmeeting to personally congratulate the faculty there.

“I’m sure all our schools are well on the way toward achievingthat (Level 4) goal,” Bounds said.

Barrett agreed, citing improvement during the course of theschool year.

“We noticed a significant improvement between November tests andspring tests,” she said.

Brookhaven High School should perform better in the coming yearsas the state accountability testing is refined, Bounds said. Theschool’s rating of “Not Met” in its growth is slightlymisleading.

The Subject Area Test Program, used to evaluate grades 9-12,tests in four areas – Algebra, Biology, U.S. History, and English2. The accountability model this year only used two of thosescores, Algebra and Biology, while determining its growth.

Those two subject areas were the weakest of the four subjectareas tested, Bounds said, although they did show considerableimprovement. In future years, the accountability testing will alsoinclude the remaining two test areas and that will have an impacton their rating.

“The more time and the more test areas incorporated will onlyincrease our scores,” Bounds said. “Our U.S. History and English 2subject areas were strong, so they would have helped us.”

Despite the rating of “Not Met” in its growth, the high school’sacademic performance was able to offset the failure in growth togive the school its Level 3 rating.

@Subhead:Lincoln County Schools


West Lincoln Attendance Center was the star of stateaccountability testing for Lincoln County Schools. They wereawarded the top rating, Level 5, but the other schools performedwell also, receiving exemplary ratings, Level 4.

Miller said he was also pleased with the overall results of thetesting, but he was not satisfied.

“Our next goal is to move to Level 5 accreditation, and it’swell within our reach,” he said. “We’ll analyze the results againand will build on our strengths and improve our weaknesses.”

He was not surprised by the results, Miller said, because thestate issued trial, preliminary results for this system last yearand the district received a 3.8 rating, nearly qualifying them forLevel 4. He had expected to achieve that goal this year.

“It shows we’re on track with what we should be doing,” saidAssistant Superintendent Leanne Summers. “Good instruction leads topositive test results. Our teachers are providing that qualityinstruction.”

Loyd Star Attendance Center did not meet academic growthrequirements, but their academic performance offset that failureand justified their Level 4 rating under state requirements, Millersaid.