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Report: Jackson schools ‘lack possibility of success’

JACKSON (AP) — An education nonprofit has determined that the organization of the Jackson, Mississippi, public school system does not lend itself to student success.

Interim superintendent Freddrick Murray’s reorganization of Jackson Public Schools last May left the district with “little possibility of success in meeting its system wide goals,” according to a report by the Council of Great City Schools. The council is an education nonprofit which works to better city school systems.

In a report released this month, the council said recruiting and keeping high quality teachers is the key to improving Jackson students’ performance. The school district currently relies upon more than 200 long-term substitutes in the 27,000-student district after more than 15 percent of teachers left at the end of the 2017 school year.

The report also found that struggling Jackson students may not receive the academic support they need to improve.

Students who score in the bottom 25 percentile on state tests receive the most individualized support, but students who score between the 25 percentile and proficiency need individualized intervention, too, according to the report.

The council said teachers are not receiving sufficient mentoring and resources, as well. And JPS’s early plans for a new curriculum, according to the report, lack clarity and direction and do not demonstrate for teachers effective teaching practices.

Michael Casserly, the executive director of the council, said turning the district around is not a short-term process.

“There’s no magic wand one can wave here, but there are specific things (like building a strong curriculum) that the district can do to improve performance,” Casserly said.

The council will release its complete report of recommendations in November.