The new school ratings are out, and some education leaders are saying the new A-F rating system is tougher than the old model. The fact is that the new system changed nothing except the labels. It did nothing to toughen the formula that is used to derive those labels, and in fact it was actually easier to achieve an A or B this year because the State Board of Education voted to exclude graduation rates from their grading formula this year. That change enabled 10 districts that would have been rated C to be rated B.
Even if the graduation rate had been included, the grades would provide an inflated view of most of our schools. Only five districts have ACT averages above the national average; worse, only 11% of Mississippi students who take the ACT are "college-ready," and only 2% of African-American students. We must provide alternatives to our current system.