School officials pleased with accountability grades

Officials with the DeSoto County School District (DCS) were pleased with this week’s results of state accountability grades issued by the Mississippi Department of Education. 

The results were made public in unofficial form Tuesday and became official Thursday by the state Board of Education. 

Ryan Kuykendall, DCS Director of Accountability and Research, made the presentation of the results relating to the district before the school board on Thursday afternoon.  

Out of 12 areas listed, areas that included student proficiency and growth, as well as graduation rates, DeSoto County Schools scored 722 points, which was 13th best among Mississippi districts with Long Beach scoring the best at 803 points.  

One of the areas Kuykendall said was especially gratifying to see was in the proficiency area for English Language Arts. The score in that area surpassed pre-COVID-19 pandemic results.

“The fact that the English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency surpassed 2018-2019 now was surprising,” Kuykendall said. “I thought that it might be next year that we would maybe do that. Overall, our ELA proficiency is higher than it was in 2018-19 and with everything that has happened in the last three years, that is remarkable.” 

The 722 point total is the highest for DeSoto County since the current accountability model was first used, Kuykendall said. The average gain for Mississippi school districts that scored an “A” was 19 points. The DCS gain was 47 points. 

Also notable was that DCS this year has 23 “A” schools, the most ever. There were no “D” graded schools and out of the eight high schools, only Horn Lake graded below a “B” with a “C” grade.  

The pandemic forced schools to cut back and concentrate more on the basics, a trend Kuykendall said will continue.  

“The district will continue to make the basic fundamentals the focus,” said Kuykendall. “It’s always been the focus, but it was good that we scaled back and it’s really made us stronger going forward.”

“We want to learn from this test data that we received and focus on continuous improvement in all of our schools,” said Supt. Cory Uselton in a prepared comment. 

DeSoto County “A” graded high schools were: Lewisburg High School; Hernando High School; DeSoto Central High School; and Center Hill High School.  “B” graded high schools were: Olive Branch High School; Lake Cormorant High School and Southaven High School. Horn Lake High School was the lowest graded DCS high school with a “C” grade.

Other “A” graded schools in DeSoto County were: Lewisburg Primary, Lewisburg Elementary, Lewisburg Intermediate, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Oak Grove Central Elementary, Hernando Elementary, Hernando Hills Elementary, Hernando Middle, Lewisburg Middle, DeSoto Central Primary, Overpark Elementary, Center Hill Elementary, DeSoto Central Elementary, DeSoto Central Middle, Center Hill Middle, Lake Cormorant Elementary, Chickasaw Elementary, Olive Branch Elementary, and Walls Elementary.

The complete report, including grades and scores in the different areas for all of the state’s schools, are found on the Mississippi Department of Education website.  

BOARD ROOM NAMED FOR JOLLEY: District officials offered and the school board approved the naming of the room where they meet at DCS Central Services as the “Ann Jolley Board Room” Thursday. The action was taken as Jolley, who has been on the school board for 33 years, is retiring on Oct. 1. Thursday’s presentation was her last meeting with the five-member board. A reception was later held in her honor. 

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 provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. 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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