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First in school history - Neshoba School District earns an ‘A’ grade for 2021-2022

Image of "A" District School LOGO

By Debbie Burt Myers

For the first time in Neshoba Central’s long and rich history, the county school district earned an “A” accountability grade for the 2021-22 school year, the Mississippi State Board of Education announced.

The state’s “A” to “F” accountability grades rely heavily on the amount of progress students make from one year to the next.

The Neshoba County School District made significant progress during 2021-22, as schools statewide focused on accelerating learning after the first year of the pandemic.

Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley was ecstatic with the “strong ‘A’ rating.

“It’s not a sliding into home plate ‘A’ grade,” he said. “It’s a strong ‘A’ grade.”

Neshoba Elementary and Neshoba Middle schools were individually rated an ‘A’ while the high school received a high ‘B’ grade.

Neshoba Middle School was ranked number six in the state while the high school was in the top 20 in acceleration.

“This is monumental,” Dr. Brantley said. “It’s like winning the state championship in football! It’s hard to do. It takes a lot of work.”

Test results from the 2021-22 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program showed a 99-point increase at the middle school, a 34-point increase at the elementary school and a 32-point jump at the high school.

Dr. Brantley was particularly proud of the high school, which had all ‘A’ numbers except in English II.

“We knew it was going to be low there like most schools in the state because we had to use skip growth from 7 to 10 verses 8 to 10.”

Overall, Brantley said he was really excited about the accomplishments of his school district.

 “We really changed the school district’s culture. There is a much higher level of expectation,” he said, noting that the ‘A’ grade wasn’t really a surprise.

“This has been coming and we see it now,” he said. “It still goes back to what I said in the beginning. It takes great people and we have great people. There has been a lot of work done by a lot of people with a lot of good, solid focus on academic achievement for our students.”

Neshoba County School District ranked second, only behind Enterprise, on test scores among districts in east central Mississippi, Dr. Brantley said.

Out of the five-county East Central Community College District, Neshoba was ranked number one.

What’s more, statewide, the county school district was in the top 10 in math and science proficiency and only three points away from the top 10 in English.

“We are really comparable to some of the largest districts across the state,” Brantley said.

The pandemic created obstacles in teaching and learning statewide throughout the 2020-21 school year, and overall student achievement declined in Mississippi and nationally.

“The 2021-22 assessment results provide clear and indisputable evidence of the resilience of our students and educators and their ability to recover from the disruptions to learning,” Dr. Kim Benton, state superintendent of education-interim, said.

Dr. Brantley cited the Neshoba District’s “high standard,” noting that the standard did not change through the pandemic.

“We are not going to lower our standard in any way, form or fashion,” he said. “We see it paying off.”

MAAP measures students’ progress toward academic goals that equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and the workforce. Mississippi teachers helped develop MAAP tests, which align with the learning goals for Mississippi classrooms. MAAP measures student performance in English/Language Arts, and mathematics in grades three through eight, science in grades five and eight along with English II, Algebra I, Biology and U. S. History in high school.