Miss. schools get new rating system

April 1, 2009



Mississippi''s public schools will soon have a new accountability rating system, and officials say the top status will be harder to achieve. 


The state Board of Education approved the new system earlier this month; it will be put into effect this fall. 


Star School will be the top rating instead of the Level 5 accreditation used now and the new system will rank schools using state test scores, achievement growth and high school completion index. 


"It''s an achievement-based model," Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips said of the new rating system. "It shows growth, not only with students at the median range, but students all across the academic spectrum, which is an improvement beyond the former system.  


"It''s a good model; it''s an improvement from what we had," he continued. "I''m sure, as we implement the model, there will be things that probably occur that, in future years, will have to be adjusted for. But it''s an improvement, a more vigorous model, which is what we need, in Mississippi, to make our children more competitive with other children in other states. I applaud (them) for giving our children an avenue to show they can compete with anyone in America." 


"I think the modifications they made were very good," said Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford. "I think it''s fair in the sense that all schools are held accountable. 


"I do think there needs to be more consideration given for schools with a high rate of economically disadvantaged children," he added. "But everybody is held to the same standard, (although) everyone at every school district is not equal, as to the ability of students. Research has shown the economic ability of a household does have a large effect on education." 


Lee County Schools Superintendent Mike Scott says the new system is much fairer to everyone and it will be more difficult to achieve Star School status. 


About 25 percent of Mississippi schools were Level 5, but national testing showed that Mississippi students are behind.