The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) released a response to the PEER Committee report on the accountability standards for the system that evaluates school and district performance, including the qualifications of the MDE Technical Advisory Committee.
“The PEER Committee report misled the public on the reliability and validity of MDE’s accountability model, and I want to reassure parents and communities that the agency involved Mississippi school and district leaders as well as national assessment and accountability experts in the development of this system. The recommendations in the PEER report are based on opinion and not scientific research or best practice,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
As required by state law, the MDE incorporated both state and federal requirements into one coherent model to measure school performance. This process included an Accountability Task Force of school administrators, district superintendents, legislators and an external review team.
Richard Morrison, vice-chairman of the Mississippi Board of Education, served on the Accountability Task Force. He said the task force’s decisions were based on a statistical process through many meetings of professional educators and subject-matter experts to meet federal requirements and state requirements.
“We studied the information for over a year to determine our accountability process. MDE followed the process as demanded and required by the Legislature. To question the integrity of our system is offensive to all that participated in the process,” Morrison said.
Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford said he is satisfied with the state’s system that holds schools and districts accountable for student success.
“I played an integral part in the development of the accountability system, and I participated in the Accountability Task Force meetings and witnessed the deliberate and thoughtful process. I have full confidence that this accountability system is serving students, teachers and communities well, just as the Legislature intended,” he said.
The PEER report includes several references to growth calculations and how they are used in the accountability system. Dr. J.P. Beaudoin, MDE chief research and development officer, said accountability systems must have multiple indicators of student performance in order to be valid.
“Test scores alone don’t provide a complete picture of how well schools are serving students. For example, for a school to earn an A rating, students will be scoring proficient or above, students at all levels will be improving and students will be graduating on time. When all of those arrows are pointing up, you can be confident the school is performing well,” he said.
The MDE, as well as most state education departments, has a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for Assessment and Accountability, and the TAC vetted Mississippi’s accountability system. Members are:
- Dr. Chris Domaleski, senior associate with the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment Inc.;
- Dr. Chad Buckendahl, senior psychometrician and director of strategic partnerships at Alpine Testing Solutions;
- Dr. George Englehard, professor of educational psychology at the University of Georgia;
- Dr. Gerunda Hughes, director of the Office of Institutional Assessment at Howard University;
- Mr. Robert Lee, chief analyst at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Dr. Christy Hovanetz, senior policy fellow at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, served on the MDE Technical Review Team for the state’s accountability system.
She said, “Mississippi has made a strong commitment through its robust A-F school accountability system to ensure the lowest performing students are receiving the focused attention they need to improve learning and results. With this dedicated focus, Mississippi’s students have every opportunity to reach their God-given potential.”
Mississippi Dept. of Education Press Release