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MDE Plans Accountability Changes

Mississippi school districts were recently informed by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) of changes that could yield negative consequences for school districts from the results of this year’s state testing and graduation rate revisions. The outcome of these revisions(less than a week before testing) could have a direct impact on the 2013-2014 accountability rating of Grenada School District due to changes including: accountability scores will be counted on MCT2 tests, even though schools were instructed to teach Common Core objectives; raising of scores in accountability rating; and calculating as dropouts GED completers and students with disabilities (obtaining a Mississippi Occupational Diploma or completing their IE).

Last year, MDE informed school districts that accountability ratings from the 2012-2013 school year would be “frozen.” In other words, Grenada School District’s accountability rating of “High Performing”/B for the 2012-2013 school year would be locked for the current school year and the next 2014-2015 school year in order to transition implementation of the Common Core State Standards. MDE’s decision to “freeze” accountability ratings prompted school districts across the state, including Grenada, to take proactive measures to begin implementation of the new standards in an effort to prepare for accountability under new assessments to be administered in 2014-2015.

Unfortunately, through guidance offered by the US Department of Education, MDE has made the decision to count this year’s results from the MCT2 and SAT2 when computing accountability ratings.  School leaders throughout the state, as well as Grenada, have depended heavily upon the advice offered by MDE regarding the “freezing” of accountability ratings and the implementation of Common Core. Grenada School District Board Members, administrators, and teachers have worked diligently to follow the advice of MDE this school year to prepare our students for the upcoming changes in Common Core. Grenada School District is extremely disappointed and concerned upon learning of MDE’s last-minute decision to use the test results from this year’s MCT2 and SATP2 to determine Grenada School District’s accountability rating instead of following through with their decision to allow last year’s “High Performing”/B rating to stand.  MDE has requested a meeting with the US Department of Education to ask for a waiver allowing Mississippi schools to freeze their results, but only for one year. A decision is expected within 30 days.

In addition to MDE’s decision to reverse the “freezing” of accountability ratings, school districts have been attempting to adjust to MDE’s continuing changes in regards to the new accountability model. MDE has continued to make adjustments to this model, which determines a school’s accountability rating.  To date, this model has not been approved by the Mississippi Board of Education or the US Department of Education. The following list outlines some of the latest proposed changes to accountability ratings:
  • Scores used to determine a district’s accountability rating have been dramatically increased and these scores will be determined by MCT2 tests instead of Common Core objectives that districts were instructed to teach.
  • A student who successfully passes the General Educational Development test(GED) will be calculated as a dropout, with points being deducted from a school and district’s status. (GSD spends over $200,000 for the education of individuals enrolled in GHS and adult GED classes.)
  • A student with a disability who successfully masters objectives on his/her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or achieves a Mississippi Occupational Diploma (MOD) and is eligible to graduate high school will be calculated as a dropout.

These proposed changes will have negative ramifications on Grenada’s graduation rate and accountability rating of “High Performing”/B.  Grenada School District has worked very hard to continue academic progress, which is evidenced by a 26% increase in the graduation rate over the past seven years.  It is disheartening for educators to see these students successfully complete their course of study, only to be deemed as a dropout under the new accountability model.

These changes from the Mississippi Department of Education are open for public comment.  Comments may be made in writing by mail, email (accountability@mde.k12.ms.us), or fax to 601-359-3764 to Paula A. Vanderford, Education Bureau Manager, Office of Accreditation and Accountability, Post Office Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205-0771 no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. 

It is my hope to be proactive in our community by providing information that will help you to understand the negative impact that is being triggered by decisions contrary to the best interests of our students and teachers.

photo of Dr. David Daigneault