Desoto County News

County schools make the grade, yet again

DeSoto County Schools remain an “A” district in state accountability tests

For yet another year, the largest public school district in Mississippi has passed its accountability testing with flying colors.

The Mississippi Department of Education Thursday released its school accountability results for the 2022-2023 school year and, as a district, DeSoto County Schools (DCS) were rated as a “A” district.  

Under the current accountability system, DCS Chief Accountability Officer Ryan Kuykendall said it means that the district has been an “A” district since 2016 and has achieved “A” status since 2014.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, grading did not take place in the 2020 and 2021 school years, but in the six years of accountability since the current system began, DCS has been an “A” district.  

On a point scale, DCS scored 716 points, a score that includes a graduation rate of 92.9 and an acceleration rating of 85.9, all of which are important in the success of a K-12 school district, Kuykendall said.  Twenty-five district schools individually achieved “A” status, the most DCS has ever had.  

Proficiency is up in mathematics and English Language Arts from last year and pre-COVID pandemic years.  

In Advanced Placement, DCS’ passing percentage of 50 percent is above the state’s 35 percent. A total of 12.6 percent of all AP tests were taken by DeSoto County school students that means students are leaving high school to college already with college credit because they take Advanced Placement and dual credit courses in high school. 

“We continue to rise there and we continue to increase the amount of college credit that our students leave us with,” Kuykendall said. “The students who want to go to college are being set up with college credit and college prep.”

Kuykendall added the students seeking to enter the workforce immediately are being set up with work-based learning and certifications for the careers they are wanting to enter into.  

At the high school level, Lewisburg High School finished in a tie for ninth in the state with Hancock High School. West Harrison finished first in Mississippi, followed by Ocean Springs and Long Beach.  

Hernando High School was 12th among state high schools. Kuykendall said six of the eight DCS high schools received “A” grades and Southaven and Horn Lake high schools were “B” rated schools.  

At the same time, Olive Branch High School achieved the largest combined growth score for the district, followed by DeSoto Central and Southaven High was third.  

At the K-8 level, the three Lewisburg schools topped the district with Lewisburg Intermediate just six points above Lewisburg Elementary and Lewisburg Primary was third.  Lewisburg Intermediate tied for 27th overall with Thomas E. Reeves Elementary of Long Beach among state K-8 schools.

Center Hill Elementary and Hernando Elementary completed the top five for DCS K-8 schools.   

Kuykendall pointed out that Horn Lake Intermediate improved its score to become a “B” school, while Shadow Oaks and Hope Sullivan elementary schools improved to become an “A” school. Among traditional middle schools, Lewisburg Middle is the number three school of its type in the state and Hernando Middle School ranked number five.  

Some areas of the countywide district showed improvement where they may have struggled in past years, especially in the Horn Lake attendance zone.  

“Horn Lake High School improved to a ‘B,’” Kuykendall said. “Horn Lake Intermediate is now a ‘B+’, Horn Lake Elementary is a ‘B+’ and Shadow Oaks is now an ‘A’ school.”

Some may think that teachers may be teaching only for the test, but Kuykendall said it is important that student progress and school progress are accounted for. 

Kuykendall did say future school ratings may look different as state officials are looking at including work-based education and other factors more in the final accountability grade, as well as changing the cutoff levels for letter grades. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a comment regarding the accountability scores Thursday after MDE released the results.  

“These results further solidify that Mississippi’s education system is on the rise, and our state is clearly delivering for Mississippi students,” Reeves said in the statement. “The Mississippi Miracle is real, and our kids are learning more than ever before. Today’s announcement is further proof of this.”

During his appearance with the DeSoto County Republican Club at The Gin in Nesbit, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann

“Over 80 percent of our schools were ‘C’ or better,” Hosemann said. “Our school systems are improving, just like the one in DeSoto County here is awesome. The fact that our schools have tested better is a result of years of us putting more money into education and our teachers.”

The complete results for all of Mississippi’s public schools are found on the MDE website

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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