The Mississippi Department of Education has released the 2014 school and school district accountability ratings. However, these ratings in part reflect results of MCT2 tests, which districts were required to administer, even though most districts had transitioned to teaching under the new standards. Because what was tested was not what was taught, districts were told that they would be held harmless for this year’s ratings. Under the “hold harmless” provision, some schools and districts kept their higher ratings from the previous year. Click here to see the 2014 school and district ratings and graduation rates.
Why are this year’s ratings not comparable to prior years’?
These are years of transition for school districts for several reasons. Some districts have moved fully to the new, higher standards, meaning the course of study taught in their schools was not aligned at all to the state tests on which these ratings were based. Others are transitioning more slowly, using a blended model of old and new standards. Most districts saw a slight drop in test scores, as was expected. Read more here.
Additionally, and perhaps most significantly, this is the first year under a new accountability model. This model measures different factors from the model used over the past several years, with few similarities to the old system. Therefore, comparing the 2014 scores to the 2013 QDI results is meaningless. See details about the new accountability model here.
Teachers and principals are also adjusting to new evaluation systems for their own performance as educators, which include student test scores as a measure, and this is the first year that students who do not meet the third grade reading gate assessment minimum score will not be allowed to move on to fourth grade.
These changes and challenges are a lot for students and teachers to handle all at once! An awful lot is being asked of them, while the resources required to accomplish these tasks remain woefully short of the adequate level required by state law. Students and teachers need your support and encouragement as they do their part to raise achievement and move Mississippi to the next level.
We are calling on lawmakers to do their part. High expectations are good for our children and our schools. As they work overtime to meet those expectations, they should be able to rely on legislators to keep their promise of adequate school funding. As the 2015 Legislative Session approaches, we will be asking for your help to hold legislators accountable for their part of the bargain, just as our children and their teachers are held accountable for theirs.
Just Give Our Kids a Fair Chance
We Mississippi parents know that our children are as bright and capable as the students in any other state or country and, if provided the same chance given to their peers elsewhere – the same resources and standards – our children will perform just as well. They simply haven’t been given that opportunity in the past. Our standards have been lower, and funding for our schools has consistently been well behind that provided children in other states. The standards now have been raised; it’s time for us to adequately fund the work required by those higher standards.
Here’s how you can help:
- Speak up. Share your support for public schools on social media, in letters to the editor, and in conversations with your friends.
- Encourage and support your kids and their teachers. Tell them you have faith in them and that their hard work will pay off.
- Volunteer. Help fill the significant gaps caused by dramatic and consistent under-funding of our schools by lending a hand in the classroom or providing supplies.
- Hold leaders accountable. When you see folks fighting to maintain the status quo of lower standards and inferior school funding, correct their misrepresentations and lift up the truth.
Mississippi kids and teachers are working hard to reach new levels of achievement. Let’s make sure they have the resources and support they need to meet the challenge head-on, to lead us to a better day and a brighter future!