Great things are happening in Mississippi classrooms! That’s the takeaway from the school and district ratings released today by the Mississippi Board of Education. Students demonstrated higher achievement in math, reading, science, and history, along with improvements in ACT scores and graduation rates. See the ratings for schools and school districts here.
Accountability rating systems are not an exact science, and Mississippi’s model is experiencing growing pains. Fortunately, the Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi Board of Education have acknowledged that the system has weaknesses and have pledged to hear educators’ concerns and consider making adjustments.
A good example of the complexity of this issue is the unintended consequence that resulted from MDE’s recent attempt to address one of the problems. Several months ago, MDE announced that they would be resetting the cut scores that determine whether a school or district gets an A, B, C, D, or F rating. The reason, they said, was that the scores set last year were impractically high and needed to be lowered (read why). But when the new cut scores were announced today, the vast majority of them had been raised, not lowered.
The Mississippi Board of Education made the decision to hold districts harmless for that change this year. The official rating will be the higher of the two, based on either last year’s too-high cut scores or this year’s even higher cut scores. But in future years, unless MDE moves to address this obvious problem, the cuts will remain artificially high, making it more difficult for schools and districts to attain higher ratings.
Despite the accountability glitches, public school teachers and students are forging ahead, continuing the very positive statewide trend of improved achievement – with the most significant progress being made at the lower end of the spectrum. Districts that were rated F last year showed the largest gains in accountability point totals, with one district improving a whopping 214 points on a 1,000-point scale. Impressive! Read more.
There is lots to celebrate in Mississippi’s public schools, where every child has a place and brighter futures are being assured! Be sure to thank a teacher today.