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Transparency helps school improve state score

A Mississippi school is getting some well-deserved praise after moving from an F on the state’s accountability ranking last year to an A this year.

Julia Armstrong Elementary in Greenville was one of the top-rated elementary schools in the state, coming in at No. 56 based on total points. It scored just 223 points to earn an F the year before.

In a radio interview Wednesday, a school official talked about the effort that went into improving the score.

She described how the school valued transparency and was forthcoming with the community about its shortcomings. The school didn’t try to spin last year’s poor results in a more positive light; it owned up to its failings.

That, in turn, helped the community fully understand the situation. That transparency resulted in more parental involvement and more buy-in from the community.

“One thing I see a big difference from when I first came is parental engagement,” teacher Lucindy Cunningham said. “That is a big aspect and a vital part of our students learning and now we have more parents being more involved and willing to cooperate.”

Parental involvement is not the cure-all, but it obviously goes a long way toward improving student performance.

At Lispey School in Brookhaven, which earned a D grade, would more parental engagement help improve student achievement? What about at county schools that earned a C? The answer is likely “yes.”

Getting parents more involved is not an easy task, and we know both school districts are working to accomplish that. We encourage schools to make sure transparency is part of the formula when trying to solve the problem of parental involvement.