The Commission on School Accreditation (CSA) voted today to recommend that the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) establish a new baseline for assigning school and district letter grades for the 2016-17 school year. The 2016-17 accountability grades will be released in October.
The CSA based its decision on the unanimous recommendation of the statewide Accountability Task Force and the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The three groups agreed that a new baseline is needed to correct artificially high growth rates included in the 2015-16 accountability grades.
“If we don’t make this change now, school and district grades this year and in the future will not give a true picture of their performance,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “The MDE needed two years of results from the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) to conduct an analysis of the data and to establish a stable baseline.”
After the release of the 2015-16 accountability results, some districts raised concerns that their growth rates were abnormally high and could not be sustained over subsequent years. The growth rates were based on multiple assessment programs that were administered over a multi-year period.
Dr. Chris Domaleski, associate director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment and chair of the TAC, said the unintended consequence of calculating growth on different assessments was artificially inflated growth.
“Due to the instability in growth, the ability to meaningfully compare performance from year to year is compromised. Therefore, resetting cut scores to establish a new baseline is recommended,” Domaleski said.
The 2016-17 accountability grades include a measure of growth that is based on students taking the MAAP tests for two years in a row. This is the first year with MAAP to MAAP results in which growth is measured with the same assessments and is accurately portrayed. This is the reason that a new baseline must be established.
For the 2015-16 accountability grades, growth was calculated based on three different assessments over three different years. The mechanism used to produce growth from different assessments was necessary to produce accountability results for 2015-16.
The CSA is recommending that the SBE use the percentile ranks it approved in 2016 to once again set the 2017 cut scores. These percentile ranks will remain consistent for 2017; only the numerical value of the cut score will change. In 2018 and beyond, the 2017 cuts scores will continue to be used for grade assignment.
The CSA’s recommendation also includes a provision that any school or district that receives an F with the new baseline that would have earned a D under last year’s baseline be held harmless for one year from any sanctions associated with earning an F.
“Without the new baseline, the accountability results that would have been produced would reflect the unexpected and unrealistic circumstance where results declined, despite other components improving and increases in proficiency across the state,” Domaleski said. “With the exception of growth, all components of the accountability system are performing as expected.”
The 2016-17 MAAP results show overall proficiency increased in both English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. District- and school-level results will be released publicly on August 17.
“The increased proficiency rates were out of alignment with the preliminary accountability results in that you would anticipate an increase in growth with an increase in proficiency rates,” Domaleski said.
“With the recommended changes, the accountability system accurately portrays performance for 2017 and allows for year-to-year comparability in the future,” Wright said.