I guess the Mississippi Board of Education has never heard the old saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

In a 6-1 vote, the Board voted not to count graduation requirements in their school ratings to be released this fall, meaning a school district with a high dropout rate can be ranked as “star” or “high performing,” or rather under the new letter grading, given an ‘A’ or ‘B.’

The Ed Board is essentially saying that finishing high school doesn’t matter in Mississippi, something I’m certain most educators and taxpayers would find appalling.

Previously, school districts had to have an 80% or higher graduation rate for a “star” rating or 75% or higher for a “high performing” rating. This is no longer the case.

It’s been reported that 12 districts and 47 high schools saw their ratings lowered last year for not meeting the graduation requirement percentages, and rightfully so. If a school cannot adequately reach the students and parents, instilling the importance of completing the course work for graduation, then that district is not meeting the expectations of Mississippi taxpayers and should be rated negatively.

Shouldn’t parents and taxpayers expect graduation rates to be taken into account when the state Board of Education grades school districts? It’s as if they are playing hide the ball, not wanting the people of Mississippi to know the true state of public education while continuing to pander for more tax dollars.

Removing the graduation standard from the school ratings skews the data on Mississippi’s public schools’ level of achievement and places future education expense requests in jeopardy. Why should the taxpayers fund an education system that doesn’t value results?

Graduation is the ultimate measure of a school district’s success. The Board of Education has lowered the bar and Mississippi’s students and taxpayers are worse for it.