Nonprofit Mississippi News A Northeast Mississippi school district sued the state, claiming that the accountability system was fundamentally unfair. The Mississippi Department of Education was about to release its annual grades this week. Corinth School District filed a request for a temporary injunction and restraining order. The complaint stated that the accountability rating of the district shouldn’t be released because it is “completely inaccurate” and misleading. A few schools will also receive “unofficial grades this year. This means they were assessed using the same accountability system as the rest of Mississippi, but they won’t face any punitive measures. The state was supposed to approve accountability scores on Thursday but instead decided to defer approval until next month. According to an agreement, the scores were already available to the media. They would not be released publicly until Thursday’s meeting. These scores are preliminary and not official until they are approved. The state has made Corinth School District a “District of Innovation” since 2016. This means that it is allowed to have flexibility in its instruction. Corinth has a unique four-quarter school year. It also uses a Cambridge Assessment International Education-based curriculum. Corinth was allowed to use a Cambridge-designed educational program instead of the state’s. Corinth was not rated annually in previous years because it was a District of Innovation. However, a federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, requires that every school be assigned a grade. The 2019-20 school year will have its accountability ratings. However, grades won’t be counted this year. According to the complaint the Cambridge program contained testing measures that “track directly parallel” MDE’s method for measuring academic growth. According to the complaint, Corinth School District has been working with MDE since February 2016 in order to create an alternative accountability model. The accountability model would not only meet federal requirements that all schools receive a grade, but it would also be used to measure Corinth using the Cambridge curriculum and not the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program. (MAAP) is the state test most schools use. The complaint shows how MDE worked with Corinth School District over two-and-a-half years to create an alternative accountability model. It would also satisfy federal requirements that every school receive a grade. Childress stated in a statement that he was happy the department delayed a decision regarding accountability results. Childress stated that the unofficial accountability scores for Corinth School district are inaccurate and don’t accurately reflect the outstanding performance by our students, teachers and administrators. “We hope that this delay will allow the Mississippi Department of Education to calculate our grades accurately based upon our innovative curriculum as promised when we were designated a District of Innovation.” Childress said. According to the complaint, MDE informed Corinth School District that MDE approved an alternative accountability model pursuant to a federal flexibility waiver which expired in 2017. Corinth claims that MDE’s interpretations of the federal waiver are incorrect. The complaint states that MDE’s interpretation of the federal waiver is wrong. Corinth claims it is performing well under the Cambridge standards. “MDE’s abrupt and inexplicable denial and refusal to work further on the district’s alternative accountability model is in direct conflict with obligations imposed on MDE… it also a complete 180 from the active participation of MDE in the development of the alternative accountability model for the previous two and a half years.” * Demoralize district’s students and teachers in college applications. * “Have a chilling affect on other districts’ willingness to participate in the Districts of Innovation program. According to the state, Corinth’s decision to hide its grade was “wholly inappropriate.” Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas said Wednesday that he sympathizes with the district’s situation but has no authority to intervene as the judiciary is not allowed to participate in any agency’s administrative processes. The state gives schools and districts an annual rating on an A-F scale to assess student proficiency and progress on state assessments. These grades are determined by proficiency and progress in subjects such as reading, math and U.S. History. They also take into account graduation rates and participation in college- and career readiness courses. A Mississippi Department of Education official explained that grades were necessary at Tuesday’s Commission on School Accreditation meeting. Alan Burrow, director at the office of district performance and school performance, stated that these schools didn’t know they would receive a grade before the start of the academic year. “These school grades will be considered and reported unofficially.” On Wednesday, Carey Wright, the state superintendent, said that every school must receive a grade. However, two special schools, where students live on campus, are graded in an entirely different way. The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and the Mississippi School of the Arts grade their students in the same way as traditional public schools. However, those scores are returned to the home district where they were received. “There are already established policies and business rules that assign these students back to their school and attribute their accountability measurement back to their school,” Burrow stated. Preliminary ratings indicate that Corinth Elementary School received the D, Corinth Middle received the C, and Corinth High the F. The entire district received a C. Unofficial scores will be given to the Mississippi School for the Deaf, Mississippi School for the Blind, and both schools received an unofficial F. Superintendent Roy Gill also gave a preliminary unofficial F to Harrison County Child Development Center. He said that the accountability model was unfair for schools such as this one, which serves students with special needs. The unofficial label, however, is still harmful in the court of public opinion. The Exceptional school in the Pascagoula Gatier School District received an F. It was also given a 0 or “not relevant” score in each accountability measure. Gill, who is also a member of the commission, said that it was unfair and unfair to call a school an “F school” if they are providing such a need for students. They said they had to test them, so we did. They didn’t come back proficient. They did not come back proficient.