Bounds wants graduation/dropout rates to be considered in rankings

Published 4:34 am Sunday, November 18, 2007

State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds wants to incorporate graduation or dropout rates along with test scores into the method of ranking schools.

Mississippi’s rating schools on levels of 1-5 is based on students’ achievement on statewide tests.

A Level 5 school is high performing, while a Level 1 is considered low performing and requires extra state help to make improvements.

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The state may stop using the 1-5 numbering system altogether, possibly opting instead for letter ratings, to avoid people comparing results from previous state tests to the new, more rigorous state tests that start this year.

Bounds said a Level 5 or equivalent school should be able to be compared to the best schools in the nation — something he doesn’t think the present rating system does. Now, 207 Mississippi schools — 25 percent — are rated at Level 5.

“I don’t think that 25 percent of our schools compare to the best in the country,” Bounds said.

In a presentation earlier this year, the state Board of Education was told that Mississippi’s ratings are more generous than those used on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test administered to a sample population of students across the country to make achievement comparisons.

Bounds said a task force will start working on how to make the new rating system. The state board meets again in December.

Mississippi is implementing a more rigorous curriculum and assessment system this year.