School rankings go public on Friday

Mississippians will learn this week whether their schools and school districts improved in the state’s accountability rankings.
The Mississippi Department of Education on Friday will release its rankings for both schools and districts, using a seven-tier scale from Star to Failing.
The rankings are based on student scores on state standardized tests and on whether individual students showed improvement from one year to the next. High schools and school districts also are judged by graduation rates.
Mississippi unveiled its first rankings in the new system in November 2009. The rankings and the state standardized tests were both made more demanding so that they better resemble national norms.
When the rankings are fully phased in in three years, schools and districts ranked in the top two levels, Star and High Performing, will be above the national average.
In the final year of the old system, which ranked schools from Level 1 to Level 5, 50 percent of the schools in the state were ranked either Level 4 or Level 5.
However, when the new rankings were unveiled last year, only 15 percent of districts and 22 percent of schools ranked in the top two tiers.
Of those, only two of the state’s 151 districts and only 34 of its 799 schools ranked in the top tier, Star.
In Northeast Mississippi, Booneville was a Star district and Boonevile and Corinth High Schools were Star schools.
“It is going to be a total re-acclimation to what success looks like,” state Superintendent Tom Burnham said last year when the new rankings were unveiled.
The idea was that despite the initial sticker shock, districts would adjust to the new demands and the ratings would eventually increase. This year’s results will be the first chance to see whether Mississippi’s schools are getting closer to national norms.
Results of state standardized test scores that were released last week did reveal slight growth statewide.
“I’m pleased with some things, but we have room to get better,” said Pontotoc City Superintendent Adam Pugh, echoing many of his counterparts across the region.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer / NEMS Daily Journal