Mississippi schools to get letter grades

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Mississippi schools soon will be graded like Mississippi students.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law Wednesday legislation that changes the state’s accreditation labels so that schools will be identified as performing at A, B, C, D or F levels.
“It will be an accountability system that parents understand,” said Bryant.
Under the change, schools and school districts that are currently designated at the Star level will receive an A, while high-performing schools will get a B, successful schools a C, and academic watch a D.
The other three categories – low performing, at-risk of failing and failing – will all receive an F.
Many states have converted to traditional letter grades for school accreditation levels. Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, said she introduced the legislation after hearing from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal about what a success it had been in his state.
“It made a lot of sense to me … I think it will raise the bar,” Collins said.
Pete Smith, a spokesman for the state Board of Education, said by the 2014-15 school year the goal is to have a new accreditation system in place in Mississippi based on a common curriculum developed by the National Governors Association and the State Education Chiefs. With the adoption of what is known as the common core, the goal is for a child in Mississippi to be taught the same curriculum as in other states.
When the core curriculum accreditation model is put in place, the letter grades will be incorporated. Starting in September, though, the current accreditation model, which is based on student performance on state tests, graduation rates and other factors, will be changed to incorporate the letter grades.

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