Despite improving scores, VWSD remains a D

Published 8:38 pm Thursday, October 11, 2018

Strong improvements in a majority of elementary schools and a continued increase in graduation rates at both high schools are a couple of reasons Vicksburg Warren School District officials have reason to celebrate after the Mississippi Department of Education released the 2017-18 accountability scores Thursday.

Two of the district’s eight elementary schools, Bowmar Avenue and Bovina, moved from B’s to A’s, while three elementary schools — Beechwood, Redwood and Warrenton — maintained their B level grades. South Park Elementary and Dana Road Elementary both moved from a D to a C.

However, two schools were given F ratings. Warren Central Intermediate and Vicksburg Junior High both slipped in their levels. WCI fell from 345 points in 2017 to 256 in 2018, while VJHS dropped from 242 in 2017 to 190 in 2018.

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VWSD officials said they’re still analyzing the data and meeting with principals and staff to determine specifically why the scores dropped.

“The district is working with principals to analyze all recent data to determine our strengths and challenges on a school-by-school and student-by-student basis. Insights from this analysis will allow us to build on those things that we are doing well and make adjustments in those areas where we need improvement,” Dr. Gwen Reiber, VWSD director of information, accountability and assessment, said.

The improvements at the elementary schools and the increase in graduation rates is heartening, school district officials said.

“These gains are proof that when we set student-by-student goals and create cultures of accountability at our schools, we can achieve great things,” Chad Shealy, VWSD superintendent, said. “I am proud of the hard work of our teachers, students, parents and staff.”

For the fourth consecutive year, graduation rates at both high schools increased with Warren Central High School improving from 70.8 percent in 2017 to 73.7 percent in 2018. Vicksburg High School increased from 70.6 percent in 2017 to 71.3 percent in 2018.

Graduation rate rising

The district graduation rate of 72.4 percent is the highest it’s been in seven years.

“Our steady increase in graduation rate is a result of building relationships with our students and adding relevance to our classrooms,” Shealy said. “This keeps kids engaged. We are working hard to be certain that our students understand and are prepared for real careers that align with their strengths and interests.”

This success is despite the MDE making late adjustments to the high school cut scores for the fourth straight year. The changes meant that a student, who did not earn a passing grade this year, might have earned a passing grade last year with the same score.

As a result, the changes negatively impacted students at both high schools and the school district overall scored 500, two points less than 2017 and the third straight year being classified a D since MDE went to the letter grade model.

“We have worked hard for gains this year and our points don’t reflect the end results that we had anticipated, but when the goal line is moved after the game has been played, it is impossible to know the real score,” Shealy said.

Five elementary schools increased the percentage of students in the top two tiers of accountability and seven of the eight schools increased the growth of all students in English Language Arts. Five elementary schools showed increases in math proficiency for the third straight year.

The percentage of students scoring in the top two accountability levels in math increased at both the junior high and high school levels. Junior high math proficiency scores increased for the third consecutive year.

Vicksburg High School has increased math proficiency almost 300 percent since the 2016-17 school year. At both high schools, there was tremendous growth in math of all students and of the lowest 25 percent. VHS saw a 50.2 percentage point increase over last year and Warren Central had a 19.3 percentage point increase in growth of all students.

VWSD Accountability Scores

2016 2017 2018

VWSD 499 502 500 (D)

VHS 485 472 527 (D)

WCHS 522 586 555 (D)

VJHS 240 242 190 (F)

WCJHS 312 287 300 (D)

WCI 323 345 256 (F)

VI 289 283 291 (D)

Bovina 436 420 460 (A)

Redwood 345 404 420 (B)

Warrenton 387 398 382 (B)

Bowmar 387 381 484 (A)

Beechwood 420 377 377 (B)

Sherman 277 334 298 (D)

South Park 275 324 368 (C)

Dana Road 288 280 345 (C)

Source: Mississippi Department of Education