Friday, September 13, 2013

Mississippi Schools, Districts Continue to Show Improvement

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) today officially released letter grades for schools and districts, showing more districts earning an “A” and fewer districts earning an “F” for the third consecutive year. The Mississippi Board of Education is expected to approve the 2013 accountability results at its meeting today.

The accountability model measures student performance on rigorous curricula and assessments. Schools and districts received performance classification letter grades of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” and “F.”

A total of 18 school districts earned an “A” this year, a significant increase from three districts in 2012. They were:

Amory School District
Biloxi Public School District
Booneville School District
Clinton Public School District
Oxford School District
DeSoto County School District
Enterprise School District
Kosciusko School District
Lamar County School District
Long Beach School District
Madison County School District
Ocean Springs School District
Pass Christian Public School District
Petal School District
Pontotoc City Schools
Rankin County School District
Union Public School District
Webster County School District

Dr. Lynn J. House, interim state superintendent of education, said the main factor contributing to the rise in “A” districts was that graduation rates were added back to the accountability model, and for the first time, graduation rates applied to all districts. Previously, graduation rates only applied to the higher performing districts that fall under grades “A” and “B.” In 2012, at the request of the Accountability Task Force, the Mississippi Board of Education suspended the use of graduation rates in the accountability model to allow for the development of a fair and equitable system that held all districts and schools accountable.

“Districts have worked diligently at keeping students in schools and helping them to graduate. The schools, districts and communities should be commended for their hard work and accomplishments around student achievement,” House said.

Schools earning the “A” status increased by 36 percent and the number of “B” schools increased slightly from last year, from 213 to 218 schools. The number of “D” schools decreased by nearly 20 percent and the number of “C” schools increased by around 6 percent.

“While we are pleased to see the double-digit increase in the number of “A” schools this year, we know that more work must be done to help our lower performing schools,” said Dr. Wayne Gann, chairman of the Board. “We must continue to provide resources and assistance to schools so that all students have the opportunity for higher achievement.”

Classifications included achievement and academic growth or improvement. Achievement is measured by the Quality of Distribution Index (QDI), with the minimum QDI zero and the maximum at 300. The state’s QDI is 168, up from 162 in 2012. Growth, on the other hand, is based on whether students demonstrate performance equal to or better than expected based on how they performed the previous school year. U.S. History and grades 5 and 8 Science were included in the achievement component this year.

For the 2012-13 school year only, the Board approved two methods to calculate the graduation component of the accountability system. The first method used the five-year graduation rate/High School Completion Index (HSCI) and the second method used the four-year graduation rate. The school/district received the higher performance classification based on the results of the two methods. The High School Value (HSV) is the QDI added to the four-year graduation rate.

The 2012-13 school year marks the last time that QDI, HSCI, HSV and five-year graduation rates will be used. A new accountability model has been proposed, and it is anticipated to be released for public comment following the Mississippi Board of Education meeting on Sept. 13.

Schools in conservatorship also had gains. Of the 31 schools that MDE operates, 17 had increases in QDI, nine of which were double-digit gains, and 21 met their growth expectation. All of the schools in Oktibbeha County, the most recent takeover, made their growth expectations. Additionally, schools at-risk and those who received a school improvement grant also made improvements.

The 2013 results reflect a five-year trend of increasing numbers of top-performing schools and decreasing numbers of lower performing schools. The letter grading system will provide communities a clear understanding of how their schools and districts are performing upon full implementation of the more rigorous college- and career-ready standards in 2014-15.

To view the complete 2013 Accountability results for schools and districts visit

(WWN will have a review of LMSD schools coming soon)