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Education Board delays vote on resetting baseline scores

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High schools in Mississippi will have to wait a few more days to see if their baseline scores will be reset.

The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) set a special-called meeting for 10 a.m. August 23 to consider the matter further. MDE officials said the change would address the lack of comparability to growth scores in prior years and if changed, would take effect in September when the next set of accountability letter grades are set to be released.

The SBE’s decision followed a discussion of the recommendation from the Commission on School Accreditation (CSA) and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to reset the scores.

The SBE remanded the CSA’s recommendation back to the CSA for further deliberation. The CSA will hold a special-called meeting before August 23, the date and time for that meeting will be announced once it has been set.

“State assessment results show that student growth and achievement are continuing to rise from pre-K through high school,” said Dr. Jason Dean, SBE chair. “The Board wants to ensure the accountability model accurately reflects student progress and provides a meaningful comparison of how well students are learning from year to year. The Board will make a decision after careful thought and deliberation.”

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.

The scores for assigning school and district letter grades for 2017-18 were set last year based on 2016-17 student performance data. Because the growth for 2016-17 for schools with a 12th grade was not comparable to growth computed in 2017-18, the CSA and TAC recommended the baseline scores for earning each letter grade from A through F 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.

“It is irrelevant to me whether we have 15 A’s or 7 A’s,” said Dr. Paula Vanderford, Chief Accountability Officer with the MDE. “Our job is to ensure that whatever grade is assigned to the school accurately reflects the performance of their student outcomes based on the assessments that feed the accountability system.”

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