2015 School Ratings Coming

School district ratings for 2015 are coming later this week. And it just got a whole lot harder to make a good grade.

This is the first set of grades for schools using a new assessment (2015 PARCC) and the first state test given online. Both are likely to drive down district grades.

Fewer than one percent of districts are expected to make the “A” cut; fewer than 10 percent a “B.”

And to say that PARCC online testing didn’t go smoothly, well… among the thousands of problems reported, some of the most frequent were:
• Tests “freezing” and repeatedly shutting down midstream, requiring students to restart many times
• Online calculators not working and graphs missing from math questions
• Unresponsive items and insufficient bandwidth
…you get the (very ugly) picture.

All the tech-snafus on this timed test left many questioning the validity of the assessment scores – and the resulting state ratings. Mississippi students are outpacing the rest of the nation in improvement on national tests. We know student achievement is improving. These ratings are not likely to reflect that.

The good news is that districts will be held harmless for the 2015 grades. But not for 2016 ratings, which are based on another new assessment and will be out in a few short months – with policy changes that punish below-B districts already on the books.

High expectations will yield better achievement for Mississippi students, and that is a very good thing. Unless the real agenda is to drive down ratings in order to justify privatizing public schools. The rhetoric and actions of the powers that be will be telling.

Watch for an email on Thursday to see your district’s 2015 rating.

*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the 2014-2015 ratings were the first under the new accountability model; in fact, the 2013-2014 ratings were the first to be determined by the new accountability model.

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