The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) on Oct. 20 released letter grades for schools and districts based on Mississippi’s A-F accountability system that evaluates how schools and districts performed in the 2015-16 school year.
District grades for 2015-16 include 14 “A” districts, 39 “B” districts, 36 “C” districts, 35 “D” districts and 19 “F” districts.
“These results represent a new starting point for measuring the progress of schools and districts across the state,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Superintendents, principals and teachers have all worked diligently to implement higher academic standards and help students achieve better outcomes. Our students’ significant gains on the National Assessment of Educational progress, their rising graduation rate and their achievements in Advanced Placement all show that students are rising to higher expectations.”
Mississippi is no longer under a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to compensate for the state transitioning to higher standards of learning. For the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, the waiver allowed schools and districts to retain the letter grades they received the previous school year if assessment results caused their grades to drop.
The 2015-16 accountability grades are based on the results of the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) for English language arts and Mathematics. MAP tests were administered to students in grades 3-8 and in high school for the first time during the 2015-16 school year. MAP tests are aligned to the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards and will continue to be used in future years to assess students statewide.
“We expect to see continued growth on MAP from year to year as teachers maintain high academic standards and students are challenged to meet those standards,” Wright said. “Our students at all levels have proven they can meet, and exceed, rigorous academic standards.”
Because Mississippi students took a new statewide assessment and two new high school components to the accountability system went into effect in 2015-16, the MDE had to reset the point scale for assigning grades.
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 new high school components include student performance on the ACT and participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement and dual credit/dual enrollment courses.
The system also places an 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.
“The accountability system is designed to present a more transparent picture of how well schools are serving students at all levels,” said Dr. J.P. Beaudoin, chief of research and development at MDE. “The 2015-16 results break the trend lines from previous years and establish a new baseline for measuring progress.”
Mississippi State Board of Education Chair Rosemary Aultman said accountability grades provide valuable information to parents and communities about how well schools are preparing student for college and careers.
“Strong schools make strong communities,” Aultman said. “Mississippi schools have been working hard to raise student achievement, and we are starting to see significant results. Students are being prepared to be successful in college and the workforce, and to face a future of unlimited opportunities.”
Learn more about the components of the accountability system for elementary, middle and high schools here.