By Michaela Gibson Morris
Schools around Chickasaw County and the state will have to hit much higher marks to keep top performance ratings this fall.
The State Board of Education has changed the names and the standards under a new accountability system. Star School will be the top rating instead of a Level 5 in the new ratings that will be published in the fall.
The new accountability system uses state test scores, achievement growth and high school completion index to set the ratings. Schools and districts will be rated as star school, high performing, successful, academic watch, low performing, at risk of failing and failing.
Tougher standards on the state tests and the more challenging rating system are aimed at better aligning the performance of Mississippi schools with schools around the country.
“This is a major step forward for our state and will help us reach our goal of reaching the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Assessments by 2013,” said Hank Bounds, state Superintendent of Education.
In 2007, about 25 percent of Mississippi schools – including Houston Middle – achieved a Level 5. State education officials say there will be far fewer star schools because of the tougher tests and higher standards.
The 2009 accountability ratings, which will be released in the fall, will use scores from tests being taken this spring and updated high school completion statistics for students who entered the ninth grade in 2004-2005, said Jean Massey, associate state superintendent for the office of accreditation. Most of those students would have graduated in May 2008, but they’re tracked over five years to give schools credit for helping students who fell behind catch up.