HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Mississippi Department of Education
The Mississippi Department of Education staff are reviewing and revising the state's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Request, which will include a pause in assigning letter grades to schools for the current 2014-15 school year.
Renewal guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education include a pause in states' accountability grading systems for one year as many states transition to new assessments that measure new college- and career-ready standards for the first time. That means for the second time, Mississippi's schools may receive a letter grade based on current student performance on statewide assessments. They can retain their previous highest letter grade.
However, states are required to identify lower performing schools based upon the 2014-15 assessment data and to continue to use appropriate interventions to help those struggling schools.
ESEA Flexibility exempts Mississippi from many of the requirements of the No Child Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and provides flexibility for improving outcomes for children across Mississippi. The MDE received an ESEA Flexibility waiver in 2012 for two years through the end of the 2013-14 school year and a one-year extension through the end of the 2014-15 school year.
The new request is for a three-year renewal through the 2017-18 school year. To receive renewal, states must describe how their plans meet certain core principles, such as:
• College- and career-ready expectations for all students
• Differentiated recognition, accountability, and support systems for schools and districts
• Support for effective instruction and leadership
"It is critical that Mississippi maintain its college- and career-ready standards for the benefit of our students and state," said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education
If Mississippi's waiver is not approved, the state's schools will be required to resume compliance with all NCLB requirements by the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. That would mean all students showing 100 percent proficiency, which no school district in the state met on the last statewide assessment.
Consequences for failing to meet the 100 percent proficiency requirement would significantly impact public schools in Mississippi. They include:
All 146 school districts would have their budgets redirected to address student populations not meeting proficiency, such as spending a minimum of 10 percent of the district's Title I budget on professional development;Approximately 74 schools in 51 districts would immediately set restructuring plans in motion; andAll 717 Title I schools would fall under school improvement and see 10 to 20 percent of their districts' budgets redirected to other services. The district could be directed to spend 20 percent of their budgets on supplemental services (privatized tutoring) and transportation for public school choice.
The MDE will garner input on the implementation of the ESEA Flexibility and the changes to the request through a variety of stakeholder groups. The request must be submitted on or before March 31.