Archived Story

Accountability Results for 2006 show schools holding steady

Published 7:28pm Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Editor:

The 2006 Accountability Results serve as a barometer of how our schools performed over the past year. Under the Mississippi Accountability System, schools are rated on a scale from Level 1, Low-Performing, to Level 5, Superior-Performing. In a normal school year, you hope to see the number of Level 3, 4 and 5 schools increase and the number of Level 1 and 2 schools decrease.

Of course, the 2005-06 school year was no ordinary year. With the additional challenges our schools all over the state faced due to Hurricane Katrina, many may have predicted a downturn in results. However, our schools managed to face all the challenges, including missing instructional days, moving into portable classrooms, and enrolling displaced students, and achieve excellent results.

A comparison of the 2005 and 2006 Accountability Results reveals the following:

20052006 Level 5-Superior-Performing

224228 Level 4-Exemplary

214225 Level 3-Successful

319306 Level 2-Under-Performing

7370 Level 1-Low-Performing 83

We are very pleased that the number of Level 4 and Level 5 schools increased. The slight drop in Level 3 schools reflects that some of last year’s Level 3 schools have moved into Level 4 and Level 5. It is also encouraging to see that there are only three schools that are rated Level 1-Low-Performing. In 2003, the first year that schools were rated using the Levels under the Mississippi Accountability System, there were 31 Level 1 schools. In 2004, that number dropped dramatically to eight, where it remained last year. This year’s drop to only three Low-Performing schools indicates that the intensive technical assistance and additional resources provided through grants to these schools are working.

Of course, we would like to see all 73 schools rated Level 1 and 2 increase their achievement and improve to at least a Level 3 school. In fact, we believe that all schools are capable of being rated Level 3 or higher.

The North Bolivar School District proved that it is possible to move from Level 1 to Level 4 in only one year. North Bolivar demonstrated that these results happen when all stakeholders are committed to doing what is necessary to increase student achievement and put those processes in place by garnering assistance when needed.

Each year since the implementation of the Mississippi Accountability System, we have seen steady improvement in the results. If we want to turn this steady improvement into profound improvement, we must increase the rigor of the curriculum. We must expect our students to learn more at each grade level. It is important for children to enter school prepared to learn more; therefore, we must focus some of our effort on pre-kindergarten programs.

The Mississippi Board of Education has included 88 pre-kindergarten programs in their Legislative Priorities for the upcoming session. Mississippi is one of only 10 states that have no state-funded pre-kindergarten program. Pre-kindergarten programs have been found to increase high school graduation rates, improve performance on standardized tests and reduce the number of retentions. The $10 million request would fund 22 pilot programs in each of the four Congressional districts.

To determine whether students are learning a curriculum with increased rigor, the rigor of the assessments must be increased equally. To ensure that our students are successful with curriculum and assessments of increased rigor, we must have the quantity and quality of teachers and administrators necessary. Having a quality teacher in the classroom has the most profound impact on student achievement, but they must be supported by great leadership at the principal and superintendent levels.

The ultimate test of our educational system is how our graduates succeed in post-sedondary education and the workforces, so we must design an educational system that prepares students for the 21st century workforce in Mississippi.

The educational community cannot accomplish this on our own. We must also build and enhance a positive perception of public education in Mississippi, resulting in a change in culture from one that does not value education to one that does.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the 12 districts in our state that had all of their schools rated Level 5. These districts include: Enterprise, Jackson County, Kosciusko, Long Beach, New Albany, Ocean Springs, Pass Christian, Petal, Pontotoc City, Richton, Union City and Water Valley. These districts demonstrate that when the right people and processes are put in place, the result is excellence.

Dr. Hank M. Bounds

State Superintendent of Education

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