The Mississippi Department of Education released letter grades for schools and districts based on Mississippi’s new accountability system, which evaluates how schools and districts performed after implementing the state’s more rigorous college- and career-ready standards.

Official district grades for 2013-14 include 19 “A” districts, 43 “B” districts, 48 “C” districts, 39 “D” districts and one “F” district. The grade for the Clarksdale Municipal School District is pending, as the district is currently under investigation for cheating allegations.

The statewide graduation rate for 2013-14 is 74.5%.

The Mississippi Board of Education approved the 2014 accountability results during its October 17 Board meeting.

RELATED>>>Key charts and graphs from Dept. Of Education school district rankings.

The 2013-14 year is considered a transitional year for letter grades because it is the first academic year that schools were expected to fully implement Mississippi’s college- and career-ready standards. Because of this transition, the U.S. Department of Education granted Mississippi a one-year waiver that allows a school to retain the letter grade it received in the 2012-13 school year if the 2013-14 grade is lower as a result of assessment results. Waiver grades are the official grades for 2013-14.

RELATED>>>Without waivers, 16 Mississippi school districts would have lost “A” ratings.

“Our superintendents have been working diligently over the past three years to implement college- and career-ready standards in their districts,” 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 because the tests were not aligned to the state’s higher standards.”

Statewide, proficiency levels on the 2014 state tests dropped for most grades as expected because the state tests did not reflect what students were learning. The new 2014-15 assessments will provide a more accurate measure of student learning because they are aligned to the state’s college- and career-ready standards.

“Next year’s grades will set a new benchmark to measure progress because students will be assessed on tests designed to measure the state’s higher standards,” Wright said. “Teachers and administrators are doing a great job to ensure these rigorous standards are being implemented in their schools. The new assessments will provide meaningful feedback about the progress students are making toward meeting higher academic standards.”

As expected, accountability grades fluctuated this year because the new grading 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 new system places a greater emphasis on high school graduation rates and student growth, particularly for the lowest-performing students. The grades also follow a revised state law that requires a single “A” through “F” accountability system that meets both state and federal reporting requirements.

Key differences in the new accountability model:

-The new model emphasizes student growth, particularly the lowest performing 25% of students.
-The previous system calculated student growth using a prediction equation. Now, students meet growth if their scores improve from one proficiency level to the next, or move sufficiently within the lower proficiency levels.
-The previous system included a “completion index” for the 12th grade score, which gave schools partial credit for GED completers and other types of non-traditional diplomas. These students do not accumulate credit in the new system, per state statute.

“As we continue to raise the bar for academic standards, our students and schools are striving to meet the higher expectations,” said Dr. John Kelly, chairman of the State Board of Education. “Challenging students to do more will help equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college, career and life.”

School Districts earning an “A” grade this year include:

Amory School District
Biloxi Public School District
Booneville School District
Clinton Public School District
Corinth School District
Oxford School District
DeSoto County School District
Enterprise School District
Kosciusko School District
Lamar County School District
Long Beach School District
Madison County School District
Ocean Springs School District
Pass Christian Public School District
Petal School District
Pontotoc City Schools
Rankin County School District
Union Public School District
Webster County School District

To view the complete 2014 Accountability results for schools and districts visit: http://reports.mde.k12.ms.us/report/report2014.aspx.

MDE Press Release

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