The following was released by the Mississippi Department of Education ahead of a vote by the State Board expected to approve the rankings this morning:

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) today officially released letter grades for schools and districts for the first time, reflecting double-digit improvement among schools in the “A” and “B” classifications under increasingly higher standards of the state’s accountability model.

The accountability model measures student performance on more rigorous curriculum and assessments. Schools and districts received performance classification letter grades of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” and “F.” The new performance classification labels replaced the formerly used labels of Star, High Performing, Successful, Academic Watch, Low Performing, At-Risk of Failing and Failing.

Three school districts earned an “A” this year – Clinton School District, Enterprise School District and Pass Christian School District.

Schools earning the “A” status increased by 22 percent and the number of “B” schools increased by 17 percent. Conversely, the number of “C” schools decreased by 6 percent.

Classifications included achievement and academic growth or improvement. Achievement is measured by the Quality of Distribution Index (QDI), with the minimum QDI zero and the maximum at 300. The state’s QDI is 154. Growth, on the other hand, is based on whether students demonstrate performance equal to or better than expected based on how they performed the previous school year.

“We are pleased to see the improvements that have been made in our schools and districts. It’s a testament to the hard work of the total school community,” said Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent. “We certainly understand as the number of “A” and “B” schools increase, it would be time to look at raising our standards again to ensure that a high level of rigor is maintained.”

For this year only, graduation rates for schools were not included in the accountability measures as recommended by the Accountability Task Force.

Dr. Wayne Gann, chairman of the Mississippi Board of Education, said the task force found that all districts were not held to the same standard for graduation rates, and that it needed to develop a fair and equitable system for graduation rates that held all districts and schools accountable.

“We need to look at every idea to be more creative in boosting student achievement,” Gann said.

If the rates had been factored into the results, ten of 152 districts, or about 6 percent, would have received a lower grade, and 26 of 806 schools, or about 3 percent, would have received a lower grade.

At the other end of the spectrum, fewer schools and districts fell into the “D” and “F” classifications. In fact, the number of “D” schools fell 6 percent and the number of “F” schools decreased by 23 percent.

The number of “D” districts decreased by 14 percent and the number of “F” districts dropped to 26 percent.

“We’re never satisfied when performance is at the “D” or “F” level. We believe as we continue to work with districts in this transition period to improve education, we will see improvements for children in our state,” House said.

Schools in conservatorship also had gains. Of the 29 schools MDE operates, 23 saw increases in QDI, and 16 schools had double-digit gains. Eighteen of the 29 schools met their growth expectations. Additionally, schools at-risk and those who received a school improvement grant also made improvements.

The 2012 results reflect a four-year trend of increasing numbers of top-performing schools and decreasing numbers of lower performing schools.

The letter grading system will provide communities clear understanding of how their schools and districts are performing upon full implementation of the rigorous Common Core Standards in 2014-15. The Mississippi Board of Education voted to adopt Common Core State Standards in 2010.

Common Core is not a federal program, but rather a state-led initiative that has been adopted by 44 states committed to developing standards for proficiency in English language arts and mathematics in grades K-12. This initiative provides consistency across states, helps students prepare to compete globally and allows for the development of a common assessment.

To view the complete 2012 Accountability results for schools and districts visit and click on Reports, Public Reports and then Accountability.

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