Mississippi Board of Ed Action Commendable, Not Perfect

State Test Scores Released

Today the Mississippi Board of Education voted on an amended recommendation from MDE to:

• Reestablish the accountability rating baseline (cut) scores for 2016-2017 using the same percentile ranking that was used to determine school and district ratings (letter grades) last year
• Publish two ratings for each school and district – one based on the 2015-2016 cut scores and one using new 2016-2017 cut scores
• Establish the official performance grade as the higher of the two grades for this year only
• Assign letter grades in subsequent years using the new 2016-2017 cut scores

This action on the part of the state board and MDE officials is commendable in that it attempts to address the problem of inflated cut scores in some rating categories while avoiding lowering the grade of any school or district that earned a higher rating under the original baseline scores. Schools and districts will get the higher of the two grades.

The action is imperfect in that it does not address the issue of inflated baseline scores equitably across all rating categories. While using percentiles to set new scores helps to rectify the problem for schools and districts scoring at the higher end of the spectrum (where cut scores will be lowered), it exacerbates the problem for schools and districts scoring at the lower end of the spectrum. Though districts are held harmless this year, moving forward, cut scores at the lower end of the scale will be set even higher than they are now, despite data showing that they were already set too high due to inflated growth. Read more.

When the new baseline (cut) scores are announced, The Parents’ Campaign Research and Education Fund will conduct a thorough analysis of the impact of the changes and share that information with you.

Board of Education member Dr. Jason Dean asked that the Department of Education revisit the issue of baseline scores, with input from practitioners (educators) before grades are assigned next year. Kudos to Dr. Dean for making this recommendation!

Test scores released, the news is good!

Assessment results for the 2016-2017 school year have been released, and Mississippi students and teachers have reason to celebrate!
• 22 districts had greater than 45% of all students scoring proficient or better in English Language Arts, compared to only 14 districts in the previous year
• 32 districts had more than 45% of all students scoring proficient or better in mathematics, compared to only 15 districts in the previous year
Our schools are making tremendous progress across the board. You can see proficiency rates by school and school district here.

Outcomes for our youngest students are equally impressive! Statewide, 65% of our kindergartners scored above the end-of-school-year target on the STAR Early Literacy test (see those results). Additionally, kindergarten readiness results show that our pre-k collaboratives and other publicly-funded preschool programs, on average, are exceeding their target scores and doing a great job of preparing four-year-olds for kindergarten (see pre-k outcomes). Mississippi’s investment in early childhood education is paying great dividends!

School and district ratings (letter grades) will be announced in October.

As Board of Education chair Rosemary Aultman said today, there are lots of good things happening in Mississippi’s public schools! Congratulations, teachers and students – you are making Mississippi proud!

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