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Mississippi Schools To Be Given Letter Grades

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 May 2012 04:39pm | comments

Public schools in Mississippi could soon be rated in the same way that students are graded. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that a bill headed to the Governor's desk would replace the current seven-tiered school rating system with an 'A'-through-'F' letter grade.

When parents are assessing the quality of a Mississippi school, currently they see a seven level rating system ranging from star for top schools down to failing.

Under a bill approved by the legislature, those labels could soon be swapped with a letter grade similar to how students are graded.

Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford says the change is intended to make the system more understandable to parents.

"If they are 'A' or 'B' I think that is great. Just like in school. But 'C' you need to work on it and 'D' or 'F' you need to get your grades up and improve that school," Tollison said.

The underlying mechanics of how schools are graded with remain the same....except the bottom three rankings would become one putting 139 of  Mississippi’s nearly 900 schools in the 'F' category.

Another 187 schools would get a 'D'.

231 schools currently rated 'successful' would now have a 'C' grade.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says the change could have the biggest impact of any legislation passed this year.

"I think the 'A'-'B'-'C'-'D'-'F' rating is going to make a real difference in our education system. Because there are parents who are going to look at their school district, think that they schools are doing well and when they see that they are rated 'C' or 'D', I think you are going to see parents start holding officials accountable," Reeves said.

Nita Rudy, with the education group Parents for Public Schools, believes the rating change will be easier for parents to understand and then apply pressure on schools to improve.

"What is more important is what that school is going to do to change that grade. And that is when I would ask a school system 'what does your school improvement plan look like? how are you looking at the data to determine what you are going to do and how you are going to improve it?'," Rudy said.

If the Governor signs the bill it would take effect on July first.

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