October 12, 2018 9:51:01 AM
Accountability ratings for area school districts remain unchanged nearly a month after the Mississippi State Board of Education delayed approving them.
The board voted Thursday to approve the ratings of nearly every school district in the state. Mississippi Department of Education released the scores to media last month, and the ratings were scheduled to be board-approved on Sept. 20. That day, the board voted to delay approval, citing discontent with how they had been presented.
Lowndes County School District remains a B district, while Columbus Municipal School District maintained a D rating and Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District a C rating, from last school year. All three school districts showed improvement, however, from 2017.
At LCSD, all but one school rated C or better, with West Lowndes High School receiving a D.
In CMSD, the schools rated lower than a C were Stokes Beard Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Joe Cook Elementary and Columbus Middle School. Stokes Beard dropped from a C to an F, while both Cook and CMS increased from F to D. Fairview maintained its D rating from 2017.
In SOCSD, every school was rated a C or better.
Accountability grades, which rate schools and school districts on an A-F scale, are based on several factors, including how well students perform and progress on end-of-year assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics. The system also accounts for how students perform on fifth and eighth grade science tests.
The state board voted to approve ratings for all but the Corinth School District and four schools that deal with special populations. Corinth district officials have said the department reneged on a deal to develop a special grading system to measure achievement on an alternate curriculum the district uses, but state officials say they have to give all schools a grade under federal law. Using the same reasoning, the district graded the Mississippi School for the Blind, Mississippi School for the Deaf, and schools in Harrison County and the Pascagoula-Gautier school districts that serve only special education students. All four of those got failing marks.
The board is likely to consider the remaining ratings in November after it gets more information about whether it's legally required to rate those schools. The schools could appeal their ratings after that. Corinth already tried to sue the state, but a judge refused to get involved.
The state also unveiled a new report card website that officials tout as providing more data and being easier to use.
State Superintendent Carey Wright also said the state may return to giving a one-year grace period every time it introduces a new test, with new science and U.S. history tests coming.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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