After additional debate, a plan to reset the grades for Mississippi’s high schools has passed. The Commission on School Accreditation and the State Board of Education voted to approve resetting the baseline for schools with a grade 12 in an effort to establish a more accurate reflection of student performance.
The SBE’s decision followed a recommendation from the Commission on School Accreditation (CSA) and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to reset the scores.
The scores for assigning school and district letter grades for 2017-18 were set last year based on 2016-17 student performance data. The MDE said that because the growth for 2016-17 for schools with a 12th grade was not comparable to growth computed in 2017-18, the baseline scores for earning each letter grade from A through F should be reset.
The differences in growth were caused by the use of three different high school assessments over a three-year period. Last year’s growth calculations for schools with a 12th grade still included data from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which was administered in 2014-15.
“We want to establish what is the norm and what is the expectation for high schools moving forward and then have our performance measures, our grade assignments, based on expectation that is consistent with the performance measures that will be continuing moving forward,” said Alan Burrow, Director of District and School Performance at MDE.
Burrow added that if the change wasn’t made, there would be comparably fewer A-rated high school and more that are F-rated when grades are released in September.
Dr. Chris Domaleski, associate director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment and chair of the MDE’s TAC, said many states have faced the challenge of calculating growth on different assessments.
“Mississippi has now had the same high school assessments for three consecutive years, so future growth calculations will no longer include the residual effects of changing assessments,” Domaleski said.
Accountability letter grades for the 2017-18 school year are scheduled to be released in September.
“The Board made this decision after careful thought and deliberation and with consideration of what is in the best interest of students,” said Dr. Jason Dean, SBE chair. “We believe this adjustment will ensure the accountability model accurately reflects student progress and provides a meaningful comparison of how well students are learning from year to year.”