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Academic Ratings Show Gains for Many Public Schools

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Academic Ratings Show Gains for Many Public Schools
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Hancock County School District

Academic ratings for Mississippi public schools are out and the state department of education is touting the results. But as MPB's Desare Frazier reports, advocates say more funding is needed.

Alcorn, Hancock and Stone Counties are among nine Mississippi Public School Districts to earn an A for the first time. The accountability grades measure student progress in subjects such as English, math and science. State Department of Education Superintendent Carey Wright, says districts earning an A for the 2018-2019 school year increased from 14 to 31. She adds 70 percent of districts received grades of C or higher.

"We have far fewer F's than we've ever had before and all grades are moving up, D's to C's, C's to B's and B's to A's so the progression of progress is exactly the way you want to see it," said Wright.

The number of F schools has dropped from 104 to 77. Some high schools graded F, such as Corinth High in the Corinth School District and Shaw High in West Bolivar Consolidated District have graduation rates above 90 percent, which could suggest students are graduating without meeting academic goals.

"That is something we're looking at, at the department to be very honest with you. It's hard for me to believe you have a high graduation rate when you've got very low proficiency rates," said Wright.

Nancy Loome with the non-profit Parent's Campaign is pleased with the improvement in grades, but says more money must be invested in teacher pay.

"Teachers are having to work second jobs and third jobs in some cases, and they are extremely discouraged and so we have a terrible, terrible teacher shortage and so we're very concerned," said Loome.

Superintendent Carey Wright says she's seeking more funding for reading coaches and early childhood learning programs in poor performing schools. The Mississippi Board of Education will meet tomorrow to approve the grades.