After its first year as one school district, the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District received a D accountability rating from the Mississippi Department of Education. The rating is based scores from state tests taken last spring for the 2018-2019 school year.
Superintendent of Education Teresa Jackson said the consolidation was the primary reason for this year’s accountability rating.
“The primary reason for the drop in the accountability rating for the schools and district is the consolidation,” Jackson said. “Although the transition was smooth, there were still lots of unknowns for our students and families and for the new consolidated district's faculty and staff. Of course, parents from both former districts had concerns about schools, transportation, rules, programs, and staff changes.”
Jackson said the staff also transitioned, with 60 positions filled in the consolidated district, “more than 30 percent of all employees.”
Jackson said the initial consolidation bill contained a clause that would freeze the district’s rating for three years until the new district had time to develop, however, the final bill did not include the clause.
“Educators know that when a school or district implements a new plan or program, it takes time to see growth and success,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District was not given an opportunity to assess the current state of the new district and develop a plan to increase student achievement. We were immediately assigned an accountability rating that does not accurately reflect the hard work of our teachers, administrators, students, and families.”
Jackson, the Winona School Board, and the district’s administrative team -- made up of academic officers, student services, professional development officers, principals, and the career and technical center director -- are currently working on programs to improve student proficiency on state tests.
“They work with the superintendent to find solutions to problems, brainstorm ideas for improvement, and assess plans and programs,” Jackson said. “We have a Superintendent's Advisory Council with representatives from the two former districts including parents, community leaders, teachers, and students. The council does a great job of voicing concerns from the schools and communities we serve and making suggestions for improvement.”
She explained that professional growth of the faculty and instructional assistants is priority, especially “in areas of literacy, instruction, and individual plans for achievement.”
“WMCSD teachers and administrators have a great deal of experience with our veteran educators and are challenged by educators who are new to their profession or come to us from other districts with innovative ideas,” Jackson said.