by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – or

West Harrison High School (WHHS) in Gulfport, Miss. was named top high school in the state after the state accountability ratings were released Thursday, September 28, 2023. This is the second consecutive year the high school has been announced the top secondary school as a part of the Harrison County School District (HCSD).

“This is a very exciting moment for West Harrison High School and the Harrison County School District. I do not believe that a back-to-back 1st place finish has been recorded with the new accountability model without a COVID pass,” said Dr. Michael Weaver, West Harrison High Principal. “Last year, WHHS set a record with a score of 849. I challenged the teachers and students to make history by holding on to the number one ranking at our “A” school celebration; they rose to the challenge, and we set a new record of 916. I credit this growth to WHHS being a “model school for collective teacher efficacy” (Nicole Cooley, Kids First ELA Coach), and it shows in our performance.”

To add to the excitement, HCSD earned the highest total points in district history on the 2022-23 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP). HCSD scored 722 total points and is now ranked 17th out of 146 school districts and charter schools in the state. HCSD is very proud to have 12 “A” rated schools.

The 12 “A” rated schools in the Harrison County School District are:

*West Harrison High
* D’Iberville High
* Harrison Central High
• Lizana Elementary
• North Woolmarket Elementary & Middle
• Lyman Elementary
• Pineville Elementary
• D’Iberville Elementary
• Woolmarket Elementary
• West Wortham Elementary & Middle
• Saucier Elementary
• Creekbend Elementary & Middle

This was the first year all three high schools were graded “A” in the accountability grade system from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE).

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) released accountability grades for the 2022-23 school year, which show 87% of schools and 91% of districts earned a grade of C or higher.

The grades are an improvement over 2021-22, when approximately 81% of schools and 87% of districts were rated C or higher.

In 2016, when the Mississippi State Board of Education set a goal that all schools and districts be rated C or higher, the percentage of schools and districts meeting this goal were both 62%. Statewide student assessment data make up a large part of accountability grades.

In 2022-23, the overall percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced reached an all-time high in mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA), science and U.S. History.

“This year’s school and district grades provide further evidence that Mississippi teachers, school leaders and staff have done an outstanding job helping students accelerate learning after the disruptions of the pandemic,” said Dr. Raymond Morgigno, interim state superintendent of education. “I am confident our schools will build upon these achievements so that all students are proficient and prepared for success after high school.”

Since 2020, school districts and the state have invested federal pandemic-relief funds in programs and services to overcome pandemic disruptions and accelerate student learning. The additional funds enabled districts to pay for extended learning days, tutorial services and intensive interventions, among other supports.

State investments include the Mississippi Connects digital learning initiative, which provided all students with a computer device, and services including on-demand tutoring, high-quality digital curriculum subscriptions and digital learning coaches for teachers.

Pandemic-relief funds for these services will end in September 2024, and school districts will be responsible for paying for any services they wish to continue.

Mississippi’s accountability grades help teachers, school leaders, parents and communities know how well their local schools and districts are serving their students.

The components of the state’s accountability system are based on state and federal law and State Board policy.