SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Several coast districts are planning parties and pep rallies to celebrate their academic achievements, after learning they've earned an "A" on the latest Mississippi report card. Friday morning, the state Department of Education released letter grades for schools and districts, based on last year's test scores.
Last year, Pass Christian was the only school district in South Mississippi to receive an "A". Pass schools proved once again they are the best, and this time, three other coast districts have joined the ranks.
The Pass Christian School District excelled again, making an "A" on the state's report card for the fifth year in a row. And for the fifth straight year, the Pass is the number one school district in Mississippi.
"Thrilled, thrilled again, and of course, relieved," said Pass Christian Schools Superintendent Beth John. "It's hard to stay on top. It's very hard and every year, we strive to do our best and then stay up there."
The Biloxi School District now joins Pass Christian on the top ten list. Biloxi not only made an "A", it was also the only school district on the Mississippi coast to meet both Federal Math and Reading objectives.
"It's a great accomplishment, you know, a thrilling atmosphere for all our students and parents and teachers and administrators. It's just a big commitment," said Biloxi Schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan.
To earn an "A" rating, school districts must have a QDI score of 200-300 and meet growth, based on their performance on the MCT2 and other state tests.
However, starting this year, districts that make less than 200 still have a chance of getting bumped up to an "A", if they have a high graduation rate. Because of that change, the Long Beach and Ocean Springs School Districts also made the "A" honor roll.
Superintendents credit the hard work and dedication from people who want to help children succeed.
"I think people that work in our district, whatever role, they have that passion about our kids doing well. And our kids are passionate about succeeding too, and want to come to school," said John. "We try to make it interesting and fun and exciting, so they'll want to do well. It's just that kind of commitment to excellence that we all have."
"We had such commitment from students, parents, and administrators to get children there before school, after school, Saturday school. I just can't say enough about the effort," said McMillan.
A majority of school districts along the Mississippi coast made a "B" and they met growth requirements. Moss Point did not meet growth and the district made a "D".
Now that these ratings are official, superintendents are bracing for more changes ahead.
"We're all moving to Common Core next year, and not really sure what that's going to look like in the accountability model," said John. "It's nice to have these five years. Everything changes next year."
Statewide, 18 school districts earned an "A", compared to only three districts that received the top grade last year. Meanwhile, 15 school districts made an "F", but none of the failing districts are from South Mississippi.
To view the complete 2013 Accountability results for schools and districts visit http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/ and click on Reports, and then Accountability.