JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) appointed Dr. Earl Watkins to lead the Mississippi Achievement School District (ASD), effective July 1.

The ASD includes the Humphreys County and Yazoo City school districts, which became part of Mississippi’s first ASD in June 2019. Mississippi’s ASD law requires the SBE and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to intervene in persistently under-performing school districts to improve student achievement. The SBE takes the place of local school boards as the governing body of the ASD.

The ASD focuses on the four areas that are central to rapid and significant school improvement: turnaround leadership, talent development, instructional transformation, and culture shift. Districts in the ASD must maintain a “C” accountability rating for five years to become eligible to return to local governance.

Watkins formerly led the Claiborne County School District and the Indianola County School District as an MDE conservator and served as superintendent of Jackson Public Schools for six years.

Watkins will succeed Dr. Jermall Wright, who was recently named superintendent of the Little Rock School District in Little Rock, AR.