MSA, Lincoln County in top 35 districts for graduation rates

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven and Lincoln County School District both are in the top 35 districts in the state for graduation rates.

According to information released this week by the Mississippi Department of Education, MSA is tied with the Mississippi School for Math and Science for the top slot, each with a 100 percent rate of graduation — no dropouts over a four-year period.

The 2020-21 school year graduation and dropout rates, which reflect the highest statewide graduation rate of 88.4 percent and the lowest statewide dropout rate of 8.5 percent. Rates are based on students who entered ninth grade for the first time during the 2017-18 school year. Among students with disabilities, the graduation rate increased to 59.9 percent, and the dropout rate was 18.4 percent.

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“MSA is proud to continue our 100 percent graduation rate. Our students are quite diverse in their educational background. We are fortunate to have a small campus that allows us the opportunity to provide individualized instruction which allows for success among our students,” said MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch. “Our teachers and staff are exceptional and meet the students where they are when they arrive. They find their joy of learning, which transfers to the entire educational experience.”

Lincoln County School District ranked 35th out of the state’s 184 districts, with a 91.7 percent graduation rate. The district’s dropout rate was 5.7 percent.

Brookhaven School District ranked 123rd, with a graduation rate of 86.6 percent. BSD’s dropout rate was 8.1 percent.

Lawrence County School District had a rate of 83.2 percent, placing it at 143rd. The district’s dropout rate was 12.6 percent.

Included in the bottom 10 districts with the lowest graduation rates were Amite County School District (71.4 percent graduation rate), McComb School District (75.2 percent), Hazlehurst City (75.9 percent) and Franklin County (77.6 percent).

Dropout rates for those same districts were 19 percent, Amite County; 21.7 percent, McComb; 23 percent, Hazlehurst; and 17.3 percent, Franklin County.

MDE’s latest figures mark a continuing positive trend for Mississippi’s students. The statewide graduation rate was 74.5% in 2014 and has increased annually. The statewide dropout rate has continued to improve, falling from 13.9% in 2014.

The National Center for Education Statistics will release the 2019-20 national graduation rate later this year.

“Even when taking into account the pandemic’s effects on instruction and assessments, more Mississippi students are continuing the upward trend of staying in school and earning their diplomas,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “One of MDE’s goals is for every student to graduate from high school ready for college and career, and we will continue the essential work to support educators, families and students to achieve success.”

The MDE has implemented various programs and initiatives to help students stay in school and earn their diplomas.

High school students have the opportunity to earn an endorsement with their high school diploma. Starting in ninth grade, students choose whether they want to work toward a traditional diploma, or take additional classes to earn an academic, distinguished academic or career and technical education endorsement. Students can earn more than one endorsement.

Each diploma option prepares students to be successful after graduation, whether in the workforce, a career and technical training program, the military or college.

Students who earn an academic or distinguished academic diploma endorsement from a public high school automatically qualify for admission into any of the state’s public universities. The endorsement opportunity has been phased in starting in 2018-19 and will be fully implemented for all students graduating in 2022.

The MDE developed this program in 2016 that offers guidance to school districts and schools to identify, support, and monitor at-risk students in grades K-12. Intervention is provided for students who need assistance to reach graduation and be ready for college and career.

Due to COVID, waivers were granted for high school end-of-course assessments in the 2020-21 school year. Students did not have to earn a passing score on the assessments but still had to meet all other state and district requirements to graduate.

The report can be read at here.