The Alcorn School District’s Alcorn Central High School and Kossuth High School each received “A” accountability grades from the Mississippi Department of Education on Thursday, and school leaders are enthusiastic.
ACHS principal Brandon Quinn and KHS principal Travis Smith have each been at the helm of their school for three years. As the two former basketball coaches entered their fourth year in August, consistency among school administration became the new normal.
ACHS’s “A” grade is a first for the school since MDE began using the accountability letter grades more than six years ago. Last year, the school received a “B” grade.
“This is huge,” said Quinn. “It’s a great representation of the hard work that the staff and students have put in over the last few years.”
KHS also improved from a “B” last year to a “A” this year. Kossuth last received an “A” in the 2014-15 school year.
“When I returned to Kossuth three years ago, I inherited an amazing staff and awesome students that simply needed a bit of consistency to steady the ship,” said Smith. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our students and staff.”
In addition to a top letter grade, KHS also excelled in MDE accountability points. The school received 847 points, which ranked them as the fourth best overall high school in the state among 1,000 point schools.
Points are calculated based on a number of items including how well students perform and progress on assessment tests for English language arts and Mathematics. It also factors in the four-year graduation rate, student performance on Biology, U.S. History and ACT tests and student participation and performance in advanced coursework.
“I truly believe that one of the major keys to our success has been that we stress both academic achievement and student achievement equally,” said Smith. “Our students not only score well on standardized assessments, but also compete in state and national competitions in multiple areas.”
Sixteen miles across the county from the Kossuth campus sits Alcorn Central, where Quinn said it’s his staff’s change of culture that helped skyrocket test scores.
“We’ve made a lot of changes and have been doing a lot of things differently, but I think the change in culture has made the biggest impact,” he said. “Our teachers are focused on the students more than ever. Students are enjoying the new environment and they are learning more because they know the teachers believe in them.”
Quinn also believes God had a hand in the school’s positive rating.
“At the end of every faculty meeting, the staff and I pray,” he added. “We ask God to bless our school and to bless these kids. I can’t say that any of this would have ever happened without His help.”
Both principals are humble and thankful for the higher ratings, but each believe the students are what really matter.
“The ratings are great, but our ultimate goal is to graduate successful students at Alcorn Central,” said Quinn.
Smith added, “Our staff and community recognizes and respects the idea that Kossuth Aggie students will always be more than a test score.”
One other county school also received a top grade.
Kossuth Elementary Principal Charla Essary and her school scored an “A” for the second year in a row.