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Mississippi School and District Accountability Grades: A Cause for Celebration or Concern?

The recent release of Mississippi school and district accountability grades generated praise for school districts across the state, as many of them received improved grades for the first time. Teachers, students and administrators in each of these districts have worked diligently to overcome the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, and for that, they should all be lauded. 

However, a closer look at student achievement in Mississippi reveals some familiar disturbing truths. While most schools saw their accountability grades improve, the number of students proficient in key subject areas is still lagging. 

Accountability in schools in Mississippi weighs heavily on improvement in academic performance. Test scores for the 2020-2021 school year dropped significantly for nearly every school district due to the pandemic. For districts already ranked at the bottom, their scores plummeted even further. Once students fully returned to the classroom, they were able to re-adjust to traditional learning and instruction, and test scores bounced back. 

However, in many instances, districts that showed improved academic outcomes have student populations where half or more of their students are not proficient in key subjects such as English or math. In fact, the number of students scoring at the lowest achievement levels actually increased during the 2021-2022 school year. 

The Mississippi Statewide Accountability System is a single “A” through “F” school and district accountability system. Grades are based on student achievement, student growth, student participation in testing and other academic measures. This data map shows performance measures for Mississippi school districts. Click on the graphic to utilize this data tool for any district in the state. Graphic MDE

This is cause for concern, as students who are not proficient in key subject areas may likely be ill-equipped to excel at the next grade level or beyond the classroom. Of course, not all students are faring equally. Black students make up the majority of Mississippi’s public-school population with more than 200,000 students. Yet, only 25% of this majority scored proficient, and only 6% scored advanced in math for the 2021-2022 school year. Additionally, only 22% of the majority scored proficient, and only

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