/School districts must score higher to get an ‘A’

School districts must score higher to get an ‘A’

Thursday’s State Board of Education approved a revised set of accountability rating cut scores. This requires any school or district that performs in the 90th percentile to be awarded an A rating. After a task force composed of administrators suggested setting the cutoff point for an A score at 85 per cent, the board unanimously voted. Officials from the State Department of Education disagreed with this lower score. Based on student achievement, test score growth, graduation rate, participation rate, and other factors, schools and school districts are graded A to F. The state’s new accountability system places an emphasis on student growth, especially for those students who are the lowest performing. The new model incorporates acceleration, or the number of AP/dual credit options schools offer, into the grades. The cutoff was originally set at 93 percent by state education officials, but a compromise was reached at 90 percent. Only 14 districts will receive an A rating at 90 percent, as opposed to 22 schools that would have received an A rating under the task force’s 85 recommended score. Some board members were concerned about setting a high bar after changes to state testing in the past three years. This school year marks the third consecutive year that the same Mississippi Assessment Program test will be used. Buddy Bailey, a Rankin County School district administrator, said, “Until we settle down and (can compare MAP) Mississippi Assessment Program to MAP), don’t allow us to be hurt in the course.” Johnny Franklin, a fellow board member, also expressed concern. Franklin stated that he felt empathy for the fact that the board had asked educators to change tests three times in a row. This was echoed by many educators who attended the meeting. Superintendent of Madison County School District’s A-rated Madison County School District Ronnie McGehee said that he was disappointed with the board’s decision, and the model’s emphasis on student growth. McGehee stated that 400 of the 700 elementary and middle schools’ ratings were based on student growth. “You are on a rollercoaster ride. One year you have growth that will take your school to an increasing value. Then you have another set of students and you fall.” John Kelly, a board member, said that he believes the board should continue raising standards for students. Kelly stated that if students are given higher expectations, they will be able to reach the goals set for them. Kelly said, “If we raise the expectations, they’ll get to where we want them to be.”