/School districts could see accountability system revamped again

School districts could see accountability system revamped again

Nonprofit Mississippi News: The U.S. Department of Education has provided feedback on Mississippi’s plan for meeting new federal education requirements. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required all states to submit a plan detailing how they would meet these requirements. Mississippi Succeeds is the name of the plan. It focuses on improving education outcomes, including graduation rates and access to quality early learning opportunities. Federal education officials have criticized the fact that Mississippi’s plan didn’t include a numerical value to test scores or growth data for English Language Learners. This was in violation of the 2017-2018 school accountability ratings. According to Nathan Oakley, the executive director of Elementary Education and Reading staff, the state Board of Education will grade districts based on the English Language Learner population. The state has approximately three to five percent of English-learning students, although the proportions vary in each district. The change could have an impact on accountability scores in districts such as Scott County with its 12 percent English Language Learner population and Forest Municipal School district with its 28 percent. Rep. Tom Miles from Forest, a Democrat, stated that the decision was unfair to schools in his district. Miles stated that it was unfair for the school district and schools trying to improve their scores to have students who don’t speak English arrive and count in the annual grading process. Oakley informed the board that the U.S. Department of Education also criticized the state’s indicator of student growth of the 25 percent lowest performing students. The letter to state education officials stated that the indicator did not take into account the performance of all students and therefore does not comply with the statutory requirements. Oakley and Paula Vanderford are chief accountability officers at the Mississippi Department of Education. They stated that they hope to fix the indicator so it meets the regulations, without having to reset the cut scores in their accountability model. Oakley stated that while they are not interested in adding points, she said that they would be looking at what we can do with the current point structure. In August last year, education officials set new cut scores. These new scores were created to reconcile scores from the three state assessments that had been administered in the past three years (Mississippi Curriculum Test and PARCC, as well as the Mississippi Assessment Program). On February 1, Mississippi will send an updated plan to the federal government.