Education

State superintendent visits Coast to praise A-graded districts

Jackson County School District Superintendent Barry Amacker stands next to Mississippi Department of Education Superintendent Carey Wright after receiving recognition for his work in elevating the school district from a B to an A grade this year.
Jackson County School District Superintendent Barry Amacker stands next to Mississippi Department of Education Superintendent Carey Wright after receiving recognition for his work in elevating the school district from a B to an A grade this year. jvicory@sunherald.com

Mississippi Department of Education State Superintendent Carey Wright visited two of the top-performing school districts in the state Monday, and will visit two more before she leaves Tuesday.

Wright spoke to faculty and staff at Vancleave High School in Jackson County to begin the day, and then stopped by Ocean Springs Upper Elementary.

Both the Jackson County and Ocean Springs school districts earned an A grade in the state’s accountability ratings for the 2015-16 school year. They represent two of four districts that earned A’s on the Coast in this year’s rankings. Only 14 districts out of 144 across the state had A grades.

It’s because of school districts like Jackson County that Mississippi is getting attention nationally.

Carey Wright, Mississippi Department of Education superintendent

Jackson County

The Jackson County School District was one of the biggest surprises this year by moving from a B to an A grade, and outpacing several high-performing districts in the process.

Overall, the district ranked fifth in the state, just below perennially high-ranking Long Beach and Ocean Springs school districts.

East Central High School in Jackson County beat out long-accomplished Long Beach and Ocean Springs to be the highest-ranking high school in South Mississippi. It ranked third in the state, followed by Long Beach and Ocean Springs at fourth and fifth. Only two high schools scored higher, both from DeSoto County.

All three of Jackson County’s high schools made the top 40. No Jackson County schools received a grade below a B.

“It’s because of school districts like Jackson County that Mississippi is getting attention nationally. All over this country, because of you, people are talking all across this country. People are recognizing what’s happening here,” Wright said.

Ocean Springs

The Ocean Springs School District rose from 12th the previous year to 4th this year.

Ocean Springs High School was the third-highest ranked high school on the Coast.

Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter said with the commitment of teachers and students, she expects the district to remain high in state rankings.

“That’s what we do,” Coleman-Potter told faculty, students and legislators at the elementary school, adding “we look forward to your full funding in January” to legislators in attendance.

We have a ways to go, but we are moving in the right direction and it’s because you

Carey Wright

Wright said the performance of the Jackson County and Ocean Springs schools is a sign that education in the state is on the right path.

“We have a ways to go, but we are moving in the right direction and it’s because you,” she said.

“I want you to know how very, very proud I am of you,” Wright told the Ocean Springs students. “I want you to continue to work hard. Raise your expectations and challenge yourselves. There is no limit and I mean that. There’s no limit,” she said.

More schools

Wright will visit Long Beach Middle School in the Long Beach School District and Pass Christian High School in the Pass Christian School District on Tuesday. Both districts also earned A grades.

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

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