FREE ACCESS STORY: Good news and bad in ‘unofficial’ school grades

By KAREN FIORETTI,

Following the recent release of 2017-2018 school district and school performance grades, the Mississippi State Board of Education voted to pull back the report and reevaluate before making the grades official.

Grades had been released to school districts and the media but placed under an embargo, which was briefly lifted and then reestablished, causing the grades to end up being deemed “unofficial.”
The Star-Herald is publishing the local school and district grades, but notes that the information may change after the MDE completes its review. Unofficial 2017-2018 “Mississippi Succeeds Report Card” grades for area schools:
Attala County School District:
Greenlee Attendance Center – B
Long Creek Attendance Center – A
Ethel Attendance Center – D
McAdams Attendance Center – F
Kosciusko School District
Kosciusko Lower Elementary – B
Kosciusko Middle Elementary – B
Kosciusko Upper Elementary – C
Kosciusko Junior High – C
Kosciusko Senior High School – B
At the time of the release, Kosciusko Superintendent Billy Ellzey discussed the results with The Star-Herald.
Kosciusko’s elementary schools all increased by one or two full letter grades, assuming the cut scores are not changed during the current re-evlauation.
“Upper Elementary made a vast improvement moving up more than 70 points to be at the top of the C category and we expect that trend to continue. Both our Middle Elementary and Lower Elementary moved up to the B rating with Lower Elementary very close to an A school,” Ellzey said. “The teachers, administrators and all staff - as well as students - are to be commended for their accomplishments this year. We expect continued growth from all of these areas.”
If the cut scores remain as stated in the unofficial reports, Kosciusko High School will drop from an A’ rating to a “B’ rating and Kosciusko Junior High School will drop from a “B” school to a “C” school.
“Our junior high slipped back to the proposed C rating this year but very close to the B rating, only missing by a very small margin.  Plans to make improvements are already in action and our staff is working hard to show the level of excellence that consistently happens at Kosciusko Junior High,” said the Superintendent.  “The number of students scoring proficient and advanced at the high school was up slightly from last year, but due to the change of tests used for comparison in growth the overall total points is less. With the proposed change in cut scores, our high school is in the proposed B category. Once again this is all proposed at this point and not official.”
The Star-Herald inadvertently left out comments Attala County Schools Superintendent Bryan Weaver made about his district's performance in the print edition of the newspaper this week.
Overall the Attala County District maintained its rating as a C-level district.
Weaver noted that both elementary schools jumped at least one grade this year. Long Creek moved up two grade levels, from a C to an A, while Greenlee moved from a C to a B.
At the secondary school level, however, both Ethel High School and McAdams High School each dropped a grade due to changes the MDE made in the cut scores, though Ethel High’s actual total points didn’t vary much.
Ethel High’s points dropped from 555 to 550, and the school moved from a C to a D rating. McAdams’ total points drop was larger, from 504 to 478, and from a D to an F rating.
Weaver said part of the challenge for the secondary schools is that they are combined junior and senior high schools. If the junior and senior high schools were separated, he believes the scores would be different.
Weaver said the district continually looks for every opportunity to improve and is striving for excellence in all areas.
In all cases, the currently-reported grades are “unofficial” and could change as the Mississippi Department of Education reviews the cut scores and grading system before releasing a final determination.