Public school ratings improve

By Steve Wilson
September 20, 2019

All three of Mississippi’s charter schools improved their grades in the Mississippi Department of Education’s annual accountability grades released Tuesday.

The grades evaluate how school districts and individual schools are performing from year to year and 70 percent of districts were rated as a C or higher.

Reimagine Prep has gone up a letter grade in the last three accountability scores, going from a C last year to this year’s B. Smilow Prep improved from a D to a C and Midtown Public Charter School went from an F to a D.

There were other improvements with public schools. The number of schools that are considered failing (with a D or F grade) dropped from 37.6 percent in 2016 to 26.2 percent in the latest batch. The number of failing districts fell from 50 last year to 42 in this year’s scores.

The state Board of Education has to approve the accountability scores at its meeting today.

Last year, 28 districts improved their grades. This year, the numbers were even better, as 46 districts bumped up a letter grade. At the individual school level, 258 of the state’s 877 public schools improved by a letter grade from last year.

Petal was the highest scoring school district statewide, with Ocean Springs, Clinton, Oxford and Madison County rounding out the top five. 

Thirty one districts received the top grade of A, up from 18 in last year’s grades, and nine of those earned an A rating for the first time. There were 35 districts that earned B grades and 35 more with grades of C. Last year, 42 districts earned B grades and 37 finished with C grades.

After three years of F grades that almost resulted in a state takeover, the Jackson Public School district improved to a D. All of the JPS high schools received a failing grade and only 22 out of the district’s 56 schools received a passing score. 

Since 2011, when the MDE switched to a letter grade system for accountability scores, the JPS has scored no better than a D.

The accountability grades are partially based on the performance of students and the annual progress made on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests for English language arts and mathematics, which are administered annually to students in the third through eighth grades and in high school.

Also figured into the accountability grades are the four-year graduation rate, student performance on biology, U.S. history and ACT tests, and student participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement.


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