Remember when the Mississippi Department of Education said the school ratings would be released in June? Well, it is now July and MDE still has not released the A-F ratings for public school districts and their individual schools. The ratings are normally published around Labor Day each year but were not published last year. JJ reported in May:
The Mississippi Department of Education will issue the annual district and school ratings in June. The ratings are normally posted in the beginning of September each year but were delayed for nine months when the department had to move to a different location due to a fire at an adjacent building last year. MDE told JJ this morning that the 2015-2016 ratings will probably be issued in October and thus closer to the original schedule.However, this delay is part of a troubling trend that seems to be taking place at MDE over the last two years. The release of information about school performance has dwindled to a trickle as it has steadily disappeared from the MDE website.
The Children's First Report was a fount of information for public school districts.The single page report provided the district rating, demographics, workforce information, graduation rates, average ACT scores, and other useful facts. This is the most recent one for the Jackson Public School District:
This report has not been updated since the 2012-2013 school year and thus makes it harder for the public to hold public school districts and MDE accountable. However, removal of information does not stop with this report but also includes graduation rates.
One can find information about each school in that report. The report even provides graduation rates for different genders and ethnic groups at each school. Such information is very useful in identifying who has problems graduating from high school. However, MDE has removed this information from its more recent reports. MDE now just provides an overall graduation rate for each school and its respective district. It of course brags in press releases about its improved graduation rates while it eases graduation requirements.
Is the Kingfish over-reacting? Look at these screenshots of MDE's website and judge for yourself. Click on the "State, School, or District Data" tab on this page.
Click on each image to enlarge. Select any school in the drop-down menus. JPS will be used for the purposes of this post. Notice the number of tabs. The only information available is demographic information about the district and the individual schools.
The page appears similar to the one from the previous year.
Now compare these two years to what is available for the previous school year:
The page includes these sections:
Teacher: Statistics on various qualification levels of teachers
NCLB: No Child Left Behind report. The report is still required by the replacement legislation.
Children's First: See above
Accountability: Gave school rating and graduation rate. Previous reports gave more values.
SATP2: Subject Area Testing. Provide scores and other stats on tests in English, Math, U.S. History, and Biology. This test is still used.
MST2: Info on Grade 5 & 8 science test. This test is still used.
MCT2: Scores on Mississippi curriculum test. This test no longer exists BUT its replacement tests results for individual schools and districts, PARCC and QStar, are not placed on the website*. PARCC was administered in the spring of 2015 and QStar was administered this year.
Some of these changes reflect changes made in testing and adoption of the Common Core curriculum. The No Child Left Behind Act expired as well. However, these alterations have been made since 2013. What is clear is the pattern of secrecy that is emerging at MDE as information disappears and new information is not posted to the website.
Kingfish note: There is probably a rational and logical reason why more and more information and reports have disappeared on the MDE website. However, Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright refuses to talk to this website. So we must wait on the school ratings. Maybe we will get them next year.
MDE issued this press release about its next board meeting:
The Mississippi State Board of Education will hold its July meeting in Biloxi on Thursday, July 14, at 10 a.m. The meeting will take place at the DuKate Building, 1445 Father Ryan Ave. The agenda for the meeting will be posted on July 13.
*The delay is probably due to appeals as the results were provided to districts in December.