The annual state assessment of public schools was released on Thursday morning and shows an overall improvement in official grades. A special waiver masks the real performance. Official grades for 2014-15 showed that the number F-rated districts fell from 1 to 0 in 2014 and the number D-rated district dropped from 39 to 30 during the same period. At 19 and 43, respectively, the number of districts A and B remained constant. However, school districts were unable to use waivers for 2014-2015 to retain a score from a previous year if that score was lower than the current one. The report shows that only three school districts (Corinth County, Lamar County, and Petal) would be awarded an A grade and 12 would receive a Grade B. The report shows that Clay County would receive an F, while 62 would receive a D, and 68 would receive a C. The 2015-16 accountability ratings of schools and districts will be published later in the year. They will not reflect scores that were given to waivers. Based on student achievement, test score growth, graduation rate, participation rate, and other factors, 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. If students’ scores increase from one proficiency level or move significantly within lower proficiency levels, they meet the criteria of growth. However, this can be difficult for schools that have a large number of high-performing students. Clinton Public School District, for example, received an A as its official grade in 2014-15. The district got this grade only because it used a waiver which allows it to use the grade from the previous year if it is higher due to Common Core-linked standards. Clinton’s grade for 2014-15 drops to a C without the waiver. This is also true for Long Beach and Oxford districts. Based on 2014-15 data, Madison County and Desoto County would also have their grades drop from A to B. Common Core standards were first introduced in Mississippi in 2010, which is a set of academic standards for English Language Arts, mathematics and math. Common Core standards were first implemented in Mississippi in 2010. She said that Clinton has been a high-achieving school district for many years. “It’s a big difference for us to be able to see how ratings were set up… but Clinton does make an effort to raise children who are falling behind.” Beason noted several things to keep in mind when reviewing the accountability data. She said that the accountability data is only two years old, and is not a reflection on Clinton’s current activities. It’s also important to keep in mind that the grade is based upon results from the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which was later discontinued by state officials. Beason stated that instead of focusing on the test and putting all our efforts into it, we focused on professional training and providing support to teachers in implementing the new curriculum. “Obviously, since then, we’ve had more opportunity to train…and will keep improving each and every year.” Mississippi used three different end-of-year tests over the past three years: the MCT2 in 2013-14, PARCC 2014-15 (which the state later dropped due to anti-Common Core sentiments by state officials), and the Mississippi Assessment Program 2015-16. Schools and districts’ accountability ratings are largely based on the results of students on different tests. Education officials warn against comparing grades from two years. J.P. Beaudoin, chief of research development and state education department, stated that there are limitations in the data they use. Lee Childress, Corinth School Superintendent, is the state Commission on School Accreditation’s chair. He pointed out that the rigor levels on both tests are quite different. Childress stated that “the issue is that there have been statistical and psychometric issues that need to be considered” in analyzing this year’s grades. “People need to understand all the dynamics involved, and the data shouldn’t be used for comparisons between schools or districts.” The Commission on School Accreditation acts as an advisory body to state. Charles McClelland, a member of the state Board of Education, noted that although federal, state, and local school officials know about waivers used to boost district scores, the “community doesn’t know.” about the effects of unofficial grades. John Kelly, the board chair, said that he is not suggesting that we make it look better than it already is. In 2014, the state adopted a new accountability system. The state’s new accountability system was adopted in 2014. It replaced the previous model by focusing on student growth, especially the 25 percent who are the least successful. Schools no longer receive partial credit for students who have earned their GED or other nontraditional diplomas. Dr. Carey Wright is the state superintendent of education. Wright said that the superintendents of schools have been diligent in implementing higher learning goals for their districts. Teachers and administrators deserve praise for their hard work, as shown by Mississippi’s performance in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. “The waiver allows them to continue their important work without worrying about being sanctioned if they drop in test scores during the transition period,” Wright said. Wright advised schools to monitor their proficiency and graduation rates between 2013-14 and 2014-15 to determine if student achievement is improving. Beaudoin stated that the state education department will combine scores from the two most recent years to “reset” the system for future years. The chairman of the State Board of Education, Dr. John Kelly said that while the state will experience growing pains as it raises academic standards, he believes that students will benefit from the challenges they face. These are the grades for every school district in the state. They also include the grade that the district would have received if it had not used a waiver to keep its score from the prior year.