Earning a top state rating is about to get significantly harder for schools in the Magnolia State.

The Mississippi Department of Education is preparing to release the first school rankings under the newest version of the state’s accountability model within the next few weeks and school districts across the state are expected to see lower rankings even as student performance continues to rise.

Booneville School District Superintendent Dr. Todd English, who serves as chairman of the department of education’s accountability task force, said parents and community members need to understand the upcoming ratings are based on criteria far different and more difficult than that used in the past.

“You simply can’t compare this scale to the old scale,” he said.

While retaining the well-known A-F designations, the requirements for achieving those rankings have been made much more rigorous and are now based on different sets of data. English said it’s’s expected less than 1 percent of districts across the state will receive an A rating and less than 10 percent a B rating when the results are issued.

“They’ve reset the bar and they’ve reset the bar so high it’s going to take several years to get back to where we used to be,” said English.

The new system puts less emphasis on the performance of individual students and much more focus on the lowest performing students and the progress students are making.

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