Mississippi schools get grace period

JACKSON – Mississippi schools will get a one-year grace period in the state’s school and district rating system as they move to a new curriculum.

The U.S. Department of Education told state officials Tuesday that it would approve the waiver for grades in the just-concluded school year. However, districts are unlikely to get waivers in the coming 2014-2015 school year, as originally envisioned.

The federal government must approve the state plan because it also meets federal requirements. It assigns A-to-F letter grades to schools and districts based on test scores, graduation rates and other criteria. The waiver means a school or district can keep the letter grade it received after the 2012-13 school year if the 2013-14 grade is lower. If the school scores a higher grade, it will get the higher grade.

State Board of Education Chairman Wayne Gann says the waiver is important because schools moved this year to teaching a curriculum to meet the Common Core state standards, but the state used old tests measuring learning of old standards.

“It’s not fair to hold them accountable for something they haven’t even taught,” Gann said. “To do so would have discouraged them from moving on.”

Hattiesburg American