July 14, 2016
CLINTON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) today released letter grades for schools and districts based on Mississippi’s A-F accountability system that evaluates how schools and districts performed in the 2014-15 school year.
Official district grades for 2014-15 include 19 “A” districts, 43 “B” districts, 54 “C” districts, 30 “D” districts and no “F” districts. More districts moved from a “D” to a “C” label when compared to the 2013-14 official district letter grades. The number of “A” and “B” districts remained unchanged from the previous school year.
This year’s results reflect the final year of a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to compensate for the state transitioning to higher standards of learning. The waiver allows a school to retain the letter grade it received in the 2013-14 school year if the 2014-15 grade is lower as a result of assessment results. Waiver grades are the official grades for 2014-15. Starting with the 2015-16 school year, there will be no waiver in effect.
The Mississippi State Board of Education approved the 2014-15 accountability results during its July 14 Board meeting. Accountability labels are typically reported in the fall following the end of a school year; however, results were delayed because of data quality errors with PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and DLM (Dynamic Learning Maps), the alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
“Our superintendents have worked diligently to implement higher learning goals in their districts, and the teachers and administrators should be commended for their hard work as evidenced by Mississippi’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “The waiver has enabled them to continue this important work without having to worry about being sanctioned if their test scores dropped during the transition period.”
Because the 2014-15 letter grades are based on the last year of the transition period, Wright noted that schools and districts should pay attention to their graduation and proficiency rates between the 2013-14 school year and the 2014-15 school year to determine whether student outcomes are improving.
Dr. J.P. Beaudoin, chief of research and development at MDE, said the overall school and district grades should not be compared to prior years because the state transitioned from less rigorous state tests in 2013-14 to more rigorous tests in 2014-15. Data from both tests were used to calculate performance labels, which does not paint a valid picture of school and district performance.
The Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP), which students took in the 2015-16 school year, also measured the state’s standards for college and careers. Scores from this test will mark a new starting point for measuring student performance. The state will be able to compare the PARCC test to the MAP test because they are both rigorous assessments that can validly measure growth.
“Parents and communities will have better information to determine if their children and schools are meeting expectations for college and career preparation,” Wright said.
The accountability system factors in student proficiency, a standards-based growth model, and the four-year graduation rate, if the school has a 12th grade. The system is designed to present a more transparent picture of how well schools are serving students at all levels.
The accountability system also places a greater emphasis on student academic growth, particularly the lowest performing 25 percent of students. Students meet growth if their scores improve from one proficiency level to the next, or move sufficiently within the lower proficiency levels.
Learn more about the components of the accountability system for elementary, middle and high schools here.
“The state will be experiencing growing pains as we continue to raise the bar for academic standards, but I believe as we challenge students, we will help equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college, career and life,” said Dr. John Kelly, chairman of the State Board of Education.
To view the complete 2014-15 Accountability results for schools and districts visit: http://reports.mde.k12.ms.us/report/report2015.aspx
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR