SuperTalk Mississippi

Two districts taken over by State Board of Education

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The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) has voted to place the Humphreys County and Yazoo City school districts in the state’s first ‘Achievement School District’, which will launch in the 2019-20 school year.

A state law enacted in 2016 requires the SBE to intervene in persistently failing school districts by placing the districts in a state-run Achievement School District (ASD).

Districts that are rated “F” for two consecutive years or two out of three consecutive years, encompass 50% or more F-rated schools and/or have 50% or more of their students attending F-rated schools are subject to inclusion in the ASD.

Based on statewide accountability grades for the past three years, five districts meet all three criteria for the ASD: Humphreys County, Yazoo City, Amite County, Jefferson County and Clarksdale Municipal.

The SBE selected Humphreys and Yazoo City to form the first ASD because, together, they have the largest number of students enrolled in F-rated schools and they are located in the same region.

The new ASD will serve a total of 4,065 students, which includes 1,647 from Humphreys County and 2,418 from Yazoo City.

“The Achievement School District law requires the State Board and the MDE to intervene in the state’s lowest-performing school districts in order to improve student achievement,” said SBE chair Jason Dean, Ph.D. “The children in Humphreys County and Yazoo City need and deserve an education that will equip them to be successful in college, career and life. We believe in the capacity of these children to achieve better outcomes and are committed to helping them reach their greatest potential.”

The SBE will be the governing body of the ASD, and the local school boards will be disbanded no later than June 1, 2019.

In December 2017, the SBE voted to delay its decision to name any district for the ASD until an ASD superintendent was selected. After a national search, the SBE hired Jermall Wright, Ed.D., to lead Mississippi’s first ASD. Wright currently serves as chief academic and accountability officer for Birmingham City Schools and previously served in state and district leadership roles at the Alabama State Department of Education, the School District of Philadelphia (PA) and Denver Public Schools.

State law requires that districts absorbed by the ASD maintain a “C” rating for five years to become eligible to revert back to local governance.

The law allows for the SBE to select additional districts for the ASD based on its established criteria and the MDE’s capacity to manage the districts.

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