State changes ranking method

Mississippi schools now have greater incentive to improve the test scores of their lowest-performing students.

The state Department of Education passed on Jan. 17 a new method for ranking the state’s schools and districts. It places heavy emphasis on the growth of students in the bottom 25 percent of the school or district.

“That is something we’ve not seen before,” said Pat Ross, director of accountability services with the Mississippi Department of Education. “We’ve obviously paid close attention to those students before, but now it is being measured, and we think that will have a big impact on our state.”

The model immediately goes into effect, and the first results of it will be announced next fall, based on tests students take during the current school year. However, because of the state’s transition to the Common Core State Standards, districts will be allowed this year to keep the ranking they received last fall if it is higher than the new one.

The model replaces the one the state has used since the 2008-09 school year, which used Quality of Distribution Index, determined by a formula that gave schools a score based on how their students performed on state tests.

Students on those tests score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient or advanced. The QDI awarded more points as students moved to a higher category.

The new model awards them for the percentage of students scoring in either of the top two categories – proficient or advanced – and for whether they have grown from one year to another.

Daily Journal