VWSD’s state status bumped up, ‘restores pride’

Published 11:35 am Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Vicksburg Warren School District was returned to Accredited status Wednesday at a meeting of the Mississippi Commission of School Accreditation, a Department of Education spokesman said.

The district’s status had dropped to Advised in September due to a teacher not being certified, said Jon Kalahar.

“School accreditation standards call for teachers in certain areas to be certified,” Kalahar said in an email following the meeting. “The teacher has since gained the certification needed.”

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District officials were informed by the state in February that the move was coming.

The status upgrade restores “a sense of pride,” said Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, superintendent.

The teacher in question was a math teacher at Vicksburg Intermediate School who had not passed the writing portion of the Praxis test, but since has, Swinford said.

“We’re very happy with the decision,” she said. “It was the right thing to do and we recognize that. We did have a teacher who was not certified, but she is a very good teacher and I was glad we were able to keep her, in a different capacity, until we could put her back in the classroom.”

Swinford said she did not attend the meeting, held in Jackson.

According to the 2011 Children First report, a type of report card prepared each fall by the state education department, the VWSD employs 541.5 full-time equivalent teachers, 27 of whom are National Board Certified, for its 8,878 students.

Nearly 6 percent of the teachers are classified as emergency or provisional and may teach in such specialty areas as gym and music without being counted against the district for accreditation status.

If districts do not meet specific state standards for instruction and curriculum, accreditation status may fall to Advised, Probation or Withdrawn.