Input Invited: MDE Considers Accountability Changes

The State Board of Education is considering resetting cut scores, once again, which could affect the accountability rating for your high school.

The MDE is required to accept public comments on any proposed change in the accountability system, including changes to cut scores. Comments will be shared with the State Board of Education prior to accountability ratings being adopted at the next Board meeting.

Send your written comments to:
Mr. Alan Burrow, Director, Office of District and School Performance
Mail: PO Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205-0771
Fax: 601-359-1979

The deadline to submit your comments is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 17, 2018.

The State Board, on recommendations from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), has reset accountability cut scores every year since the new model was implemented. Each time scores are reset, the MDE uses the same percentile rankings to determine school and/or district ratings, predetermining that 10 percent will receive As, 27 percent Bs, 25 percent Cs, 24 percent Ds, and 14 percent Fs, regardless of how students perform.

When percentile rankings are used to determine scores, the more students improve as a whole, the higher the cut scores are set, and the more difficult it becomes for schools and districts to receive a higher accountability grade. When cut scores were reset last year, high schools had done particularly well, causing the new cut scores to be raised significantly. Additionally, for 2017-2018, the score required for students to be considered proficient on the high school English II exam was also raised. As a result, high school accountability ratings for 2018 are set to plummet if scores are not reset again, even though high school test scores showed improvement.

Some Accreditation Commission members expressed reservations when presented with MDE’s request to recommend that percentiles be used again to re-establish high school cut scores. When a member suggested reverting to the 2016 cut scores, the Commission was told that they could consider only the MDE-recommended motion before them. The choices given the Commission were to go with the unreasonably high scores set in 2017, yielding few As and many Fs, or to reset the cut scores again using the percentile rankings method, forcing a set number of As, Fs, etc., regardless of the improvement shown by a given school.

To meet a federal ESSA requirement, the Board also is considering rules changes that would impose accountability ratings on schools that heretofore have not been rated. See all proposed changes in red-line here.

The good news is that student achievement is on the rise in Mississippi, and test scores are improving! It is important that we have an accountability system that rewards students and teachers for the progress they are making. Please take a minute to share your thoughts with the MDE and the State Board of Education.

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