For Immediate Release: October 24, 2018
JACKSON, Miss. – Parental and community engagement is essential to the success of schools, yet in the past, parents had been left in the dark about how their child’s school is performing.
Without transparent information, how can parents celebrate their school’s success or call on school and district leaders to improve academic programs that will lead to student success? The simple answer is they can’t, but with the right information they can.
The Mississippi Legislature adopted a law in 2013 that established an A-F grading system, also referred to as the accountability system, so that parents could find out how students are achieving and progressing. An accountability system defines and measures what matters: overall student performance and progress, with extra focus on struggling students, and graduation rates and college and career readiness in high school. A study released this month examined the relationships between poverty and a school’s academic performance (both student achievement and growth). Results showed that high poverty schools can still have high academic growth of students – an important part of our accountability system.
Because A-F grades are like a child’s report card, parents intuitively understand than an A represents high achievement and an F represents a need for immediate help.
The grading system for Mississippi is weighted heavily on academic growth – growth of all students and growth of the lowest 25 percent of students who need additional support. That’s because Mississippi’s student achievement level was at the bottom. A lot has changed over the last several years thanks to the hard work of students, teachers and school leaders. Mississippi is no longer last in education.
We’re seeing the results of greater accountability. Mississippi’s students are meeting and exceeding the high expectations set for them. More students than ever are graduating from high school, earning college credit while in high school, reaching proficiency in reading and math, passing Advanced Placement courses, and earning industry-based credentials valued by Mississippi business and industry.
Following the Mississippi State Board of Education’s release of school and district grades on, the Mississippi Department of Education launched an interactive online tool, Mississippi Succeeds Report Card (msrc.mdek12.org), to help parents and communities more easily evaluate schools across the state.
The online report card includes information about schools and districts on how well students performed on state tests, their level of knowledge of grade-level learning goals and their academic growth from one year to the next. Also, because of changes in federal education law, Mississippi includes additional details in report cards that will give educators, parents and communities a better picture of overall school success, such as,
- Academic performance by student groups,
- Teacher workforce data,
- Student disciplinary actions (suspensions and expulsions),
- Chronic absenteeism rates, and
- Schools identified for additional support from the state based on low performance in one or more measures.
When parents, school leaders and the community are on the same page, students win. The focus in public education should always be on students, and while Mississippi students have made significant gains, we have more work to do.
The release of A-F grades is an opportunity for school leaders to recommit themselves to providing a quality education to every Mississippi child and for parents to ask important questions about their child’s education. The future of the state depends on it.
Dr. Carey Wright is the state superintendent for Mississippi. For more information about Mississippi’s A-F accountability system, visit https://www.mdek12.org/OCGR/mact.