Area schools see positive results in new rankings

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2006

Local schools maintained or improved their status on stateCommission on School Accreditation standards announced today.

Schools are rated on a five-point Mississippi AccountabilitySystem scale, with one being the lowest and five the highest whendetermining state accreditation levels.

No school in the local area was deemed unsuccessful by the stateDepartment of Education. All local schools achieved successful(level 3), exemplary (level 4) or superior (level 5) ratings.

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Ratings are based primarily on the Mississippi Curriculum Testsfor grade 2-8 in reading, language arts and mathematics and fourhigh school Subject Area Tests, in Algebra I, Biology I, English 2and U.S. History. Other factors, such as scoring growth in testedareas, are also included in the complex formula used to determinehow schools fared.

The most improvement in accreditation levels was shown by theBrookhaven School District, where Mamie Martin Elementary andBrookhaven Elementary rose from successful to exemplary.

Brookhaven Elementary only slightly missed achieving thesuperior rating, said James Tillman, assistant superintendent ofthe Brookhaven Public School District.

“I think this is the first time we’ve had three level 4 schoolsin the district, so they’re moving up,” he said.

Lipsey Middle School retained its exemplary ranking whileAlexander Junior High and Brookhaven High kept their designationsas successful.

“We are proud of the progress we are making in studentachievement,” Tillman said. “Our immediate goal is to get all ofour schools up to a level 4.”

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Terry Brister saidhe was proud to see Enterprise Attendance Center reclaim itsexemplary status.

The school’s fell just short of projected growth last year anddipped to a successful ranking. State test scores and growthimproved at the school across the board on 2005-2006 tests toprovide the needed boost to get it back to its former ranking, hesaid.

“The difference was so minute last year that we appealed, but itdid not pass,” Brister said. “This year they achieved it on theirown.”

Enterprise’s climb in the rankings means all Lincoln Countyschools have at least an exemplary designation. West LincolnAttendance Center retained its superior rating for the thirdconsecutive year.

Lawrence County School District Superintendent Russell Caudillsaid the district enjoyed great progress in increasing test scores,but the accreditation levels remain virtually unchanged from lastyear.

“I’m happy that we held our own this year, and I know we’regetting close to level 5 at some of our schools,” Caudill said. “Ibelieve we’re heading in that direction.”

Topeka-Tilton Attendance Center retained its superior rating forthe second consecutive year while Monticello Elementary, Rod PaigeMiddle School and New Hebron Attendance Center kept their exemplarystatus. Lawrence County High School’s designation as successfulalso remains unchanged.

Caudill said he was a little disappointed the high school didnot achieve exemplary status.

“We had hoped that the high school would move up, but we didn’tquite make it this year,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be there nextyear.”

Wesson Attendance Center Principal Billy O. Britt said this wasthe year for his school. Wesson improved from exemplary tosuperior.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We’ve always known we had a goodschool, and I think that this shows that to the community.”

Brit credits an active tutoring program with contributing tostudents’ success. Tutors are available Wednesday afternoon, whenthe school lets off early, and some teachers volunteer theirSaturday mornings.

“I think that says a lot of our teachers and students to come inon Saturday,” Britt said.

Franklin County School District Superintendent Lona Thomas saidshe was happy that all the district’s schools were designated assuccessful, but the district has set loftier goals for the2006-2007 year.

“We’re looking at our weaknesses and we’re looking at level 4for all our schools next year,” Thomas said. “It’s certainlyattainable.”

Brister, in comments mirrored by other superintendents abouttheir districts, praised the district’s faculty and staff and itspartnership with students, parents and the community. He said theaccreditation levels were a reflection of their dedication.

“Our positive results are a reflection of the hard work anddedication of an outstanding faculty, as well as the commitment onthe parts of students, parents and the community,” Brister said.”Our faculty is focused and committed to attaining the goalsnecessary to maintain the levels of accreditation representative ofsuccessful schools.”