Oxford schools No. 1 ranking worth celebrating

Published 3:31 pm Thursday, October 27, 2016

We have long boasted in Oxford of having one of the best school systems in the state.

We use it as a recruiting tool for new residents and businesses and a point of pride, sharing with friends and acquaintances about our community’s strength.

You can’t beat our public schools, we say. Housing may be a little more expensive in Oxford but look at what you get in return: Quality education without paying for private schools.

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Now we can take that statement further, claiming with official backing to have the single best public schools system in the state of Mississippi.

Yes, Oxford’s school district is No. 1.

We celebrate when the Oxford Chargers win the state championship in baseball. We are inspired when we watch students perform in Oxford’s theatre program, and a long list of other exemplary accomplishment for our city’s school system.

But no accomplishment stands as an appropriate exclamation mark of achievement like the recent Mississippi report card that graded the Oxford schools as No. 1 in the entire state.

This distinction is a very big deal when it comes to community pride, and evidence that hard work and investment to make our schools and the Oxford community a leader in Mississippi, and in the South, is working.

It is, in fact, one of the most important designations and therefore celebrations to land on Oxford in a long time. Having the best public schools system means we are well positioned for quality growth, attracting new residents who value education and this unique place in Mississippi where the living is good, very good.

Using a points-based scoring system that analyzed standardized test scores for the 2015-2016 school year, the statewide Accountability Results scorecard, produced by the Mississippi Department of Education, gave Oxford’s school system the grade of A, but more importantly the designation of No. 1 in the overall points system.

Topping other A schools in the points system including Long Beach School District, Ocean Springs School District, Pearl School District, Desoto School District, and Madison School District, Oxford’s school system stands out as a point of achievement and pride the entire community can celebrate.

It’s also good to know that while Oxford Schools Superintendent Brian Harvey took a moment in the past week to enjoy the achievement and congratulate all Oxford schools employees, board members and students on the No. 1 ranking, he is hardly proclaiming victory.

He knows being at the top does not mean all challenges have been conquered, and he and other administrators are interested in seeing every student in Oxford schools excel.

“Even though we received the most points on the accountability model, we realize that we still have many students who are struggling,” Harvey said. “We are working to bring all students to proficiency so that they can achieve their full potential.”

But this moment for the community is worth celebrating, and sharing with friends, family and anyone who may be interested in Oxford. We know our school system is good, but having it affirmed in an official report card that puts us at the top is rewarding.

Yes, Oxford’s public schools are ranked No. 1 in the state.

And that’s a big deal.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.