Philadelphia schools improved from a "D" to a "C" under the state Department of Education's accountability model by closely utilizing "data driven instruction" and the aid of tutors.

Neshoba schools went from a "C" to a "B" because teachers and administrators analyzed data collected on students and implemented the necessary changes to bring about improvements.

Union schools were one of 18 in the state to be given an "A," which officials attributed to setting higher expectations on students who responded positively.

The accountability model measures student performance on rigorous curricula and assessments. Schools and districts received performance classification letter grades of "A," "B," "C," "D" and "F."

Results from the 2012-13 school year were released on Friday.

Lee Ann Fulton, acting superintendent for the city schools, credited "data driven instruction" for the district's improvement. She noted that a higher number of students scored at the proficient and advanced levels in math in grades third through eighth. Math scores were especially high in the seventh grade.

In addition, volunteers organizing a Parents for Public Schools chapter helped tutor students in the city schools, sparking improvements as well.

District and school classifications included achievement and academic growth or improvement. Achievement is measured by the Quality of Distribution Index (QDI), with the minimum QDI zero and the maximum at 300. The state's QDI is 168, up from 162 in 2012. 

Growth, on the other hand, is based on whether students demonstrate performance equal to or better than expected based on how they performed the previous school year. U.S. history and grades 5 and 8 science were included in the achievement component this year.

The Philadelphia Public School District met growth during the 2012-13 school year.

The elementary, middle and high school were individually rated "C." The elementary and middle schools met growth. The high school did not meet growth.

The city school district had a 65.8 percent five-year graduation rate and a 85.9 percent four-year graduation rate.

Fulton said the city school district was "celebrating" its success.

Volunteers helped tutor students, sparking improvements in both reading and math, she said.

"They would come one day a week on their lunch breaks and tutor at the elementary and middle schools," Fulton said. "That really impressed the students."

Had the city school district met growth at the high school, it would have moved to a "B" rating, she said.

"We want to build on the momentum," Fulton said.

She, along with co-acting superintendent of education Christie Rowcliff, said they were especially proud of the administrators, staff, faculty, students and parents for all their hard work.

The Neshoba County School District also met growth.

Broken down, Neshoba Elementary and High School received a "C."

The middle school received a "B."

Neshoba Middle met growth but the elementary and high school did not.

The county school district's five-year graduation rate is 83.1 and the four-year graduation rate is 85.9 percent.

Neshoba Superintendent Tommy Dearing said he was very pleased with his district's "B" rating.

He credited the hard work of "teachers, administrators and staff along with the hard work of students and the support of the parents" to move the district forward.

"The teachers and administrators did a good job of analyzing the data and making changes where they needed to be made. We made improvements almost across the board. We have some areas we are going to concentrate on this current school year and move the district on forward."

The Union Public School District includes about 200 students from Neshoba County.

Ray Perry, interim superintendent at Union, said he was proud of his district's accomplishment.

"We missed growth by 39-thousandths of a point at our middle school," he said. "We are happy.

"We are going to get the middle school scores up this year. That is our objective."

Perry credited the students, teachers, principals, support staff and parents with the achievement.

"We have high expectations,"he said. "The kids know we expect them to do well and they respond to that. We were real pleased."

The Union School District's met growth overall.

Broken down by schools, Union Elementary and High School received an "A" and met growth.

Union Middle School received a "C" and did not meet growth.

The Union School District had a five-year graduation rate of 77 percent and a four-year graduation rate of 88.4 percent.

The 2013 statewide results reflect a five-year trend of increasing numbers of top-performing schools and decreasing numbers of lower performing schools.

The letter grading system will provide communities a clear understanding of how their schools and districts are performing upon full implementation of the more rigorous college- and career-ready standards in 2014-15.

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.