HPSD focusing on positive elements throughout districtBy BETH BUNCH,
When the Mississippi Department of Education’s accountability model ratings came out in October, the Hattiesburg Public School District failed to improve upon its “D” grade, but it did increase its total points over last year’s results by 7.2 percent. And some of their schools improved their ratings. And that was something to be proud of.
At individual high schools, Hattiesburg High School increased its grade from a C to a B. Grades for elementary and middle school in the Hattiesburg Public School District showed Woodley Elementary School kept a C, Lillie Burney STEAM Academy jumped from an F to a C, N.R. Burger Middle School stayed at a C, Rowan Elementary School increased from a D to a C and Thames Elementary School remained a D.
But the district wants the community to know that those ratings are just one part of the larger puzzle that make up the school district. And there are many other things to be proud of throughout the district.
The district has compiled several data points based on information from the 2016-17 school year that paint a more accurate picture of the school district. This graphic is what they refer to as the district’s accountability dashboard.
The Hattiesburg Public School District joins other participating districts across the state, such as Petal, in putting together this accountability dashboard for the second year and publishing them in their respective community newspapers to better educate the community about what the districts have going on beyond test scores.
A couple of new components were added to this year’s dashboard to provide more insight into the district.
The information is split into four indicators. Indicator I focuses on student learning.
This section puts state assessment scores into an easy-to-understand format.
The student learning component also features NWEA national assessment information, as well as daily attendance, promotion and retention rates and scores on the Mastery Prep practice ACT.
The NWEA information measures HPSD against schools across the nation.
This section also shows the number of students in the district receiving free or reduced lunches.
Kindergarten readiness is a major focus for Hattiesburg Public Schools, according to HPSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Williams. “Early childhood literacy is critical from birth to five years,” he said. “Last year, only 27 percent of our students were considered kindergarten-ready, which is below the 36 percent state average. We're working with parents and the community to ensure our students are prepared when they officially enter school for the first-time.”
He said during this school year, they’ve implemented multiple initiatives to increase early childhood literacy.
“Hattiesburg families can visit our new Early Childhood Center to focus on literacy-based activities and get the tools they need to better prepare them for success,” Williams said.
Indicator II looks at college and career readiness opportunities in the HPSD.
The dashboard shows that Hattiesburg has a 72.9 percent graduation rate, more than $4 million in scholarship opportunities that Hattiesburg graduates received and average ACT scores for juniors and seniors.
"We've also increased our focus on ACT preparedness for parents and students grades 9-12 by increasing the number of ACT workshops offered,” Williams said. “On average, the first time most students take the ACT is during their junior year. This year, we've made an intentional focus to have 100 percent of our juniors tested by the end of the fall semester."
Advanced placement, dual credit and career and technical education participation and pass rate results are also featured.
Section III focuses on teacher quality by featuring the number of advanced degrees held by teachers in the Hattiesburg Public School District, as well as the number of national board-certified teachers and high teacher attendance.
The fourth indicator is financials.