Jackson County

The lowest-rated Coast school district is celebrating success. Here’s why.

The city’s schools have shown major gains and growth.

First of all, the high school earned a B ranking, the first time on record, school officials said. It hasn’t been higher than a C in recent decades. It jumped from a D to a B in one year.

And second, 75 percent of the schools — three of four in the system — improved their ranking. That’s the first time in 10 years that has happened.

“We’ve seen 75 percent growth,” Superintendent Shannon Vincent told the Sun Herald. “And that’s cause for celebration all around.”

Moss Point schools held that celebration at the football stadium this week and produced a video to go with it.

Vincent said there was tremendous growth in all areas, and she realizes that the scoring put emphasis on growth this year.

The one school that went down, and received an F ranking, was Magnolia Middle School.

Here’s what she had to say:

“Our goal is to move up next year. As soon as we finished celebrating, we started planing the shifting we would do for next year — make sure all the lessons and standards are aligned and working and to pay attention to individual student data to capture the strengths of each child.”

She said that is what they’re doing in all the schools.

“We want to keep the high school where it is and have the other schools move up a grade.

“Magnolia is a doable process. I spent the day there today (she said Wednesday). We just have to pay attention to the data and make sure we’re teaching the standards to the rigorous level of the test, so the students can show what they know.”

Escatawpa Upper Elementary ranked F last year and moved up to a D, three points from a C. But one-third of its students moved to Magnolia Middle this year.

“We have to help those students bridge the gap.”

How did Moss Point get the high school to a B?

“We have a principal who has worked as a turn-around principal before. That was one of the reasons he was hired, his data was impressive. He came from the Delta.”

She said, they also put a higher level of focus on instruction and looked at the data to fill in the gaps, before moving students into the tested classes.

They increased dual enrollment at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

“Moss Point schools paid the $100 for talented students to take the courses. And we’ve had 100 percent success. They earned the Carnegie units for high school and college. $100 was a barrier for most of the students,” she said. “That and transportation ... but the community college worked with us.”

“Moss Point is the only D district on the Coast, so we had plenty of room to grow,” she said.

Now their job is to get children to grow in proficiency, which will improve the district’s rating as a whole.

About 20 percent of the students in the system have scored in the top two levels of proficiency.

The remaining are below or at the passing rate, she said. It was the proficient students they sent to the college courses, she said.

“For all students, we look at them individually and create a plan for them and their strengths,” she said. Now improving proficiency is the key.

Three of Moss Point’s four schools have improved

  • Moss Point High School from D to B
  • Kreole Primary Elementary from D to C
  • Escatawpa from an F to a D, and three points from a C
  • Magnolia Middle School was a D and dropped to an F