The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously today to keep the U.S. History end-of-course assessment.
The SBE’s final decision on the end-of-course assessment comes after a public comment period and review of an Accountability Task Force (ATF) recommendation. In November, the SBE asked for information from the ATF on how the possible elimination of the U.S. History assessment would impact the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System.
The ATF met on Dec. 5 and considered the SBE’s directive as to how points assigned in accountability to the U.S. History component would be redistributed or removed without resetting performance classification cut scores. Contingent on if the SBE eliminated the assessment, the ATF recommended the 50 points currently assigned to the U.S. History component should be added to the 50 point Science component, resulting in a 100 point Science component for Schools with Grade 12 effective with the 2020-2021 school year. Based on the impact data provided to the ATF, this change would not require a change in cut scores.
However, the SBE members expressed concern that the removal of the assessment could lessen the importance of U.S. History in schools. The U.S. History assessment is the only statewide accountability measure of the academic standards for social studies. The other required assessments, MAAP and the ACT, measure student learning in English Language Arts, mathematics, and science only.
The SBE’s decision also follows the Commission on School Accreditation and the Mississippi Student Testing Task Force requests that the SBE consider elimination of the U.S. History end-of-course assessment. The series of actions was prompted by an opinion poll of secondary education teachers who voted to eliminate the assessment. The U.S. History end-of-course assessment is the only state test not required by federal or state law.
The U.S. History assessment is given to high school students upon completion of the course. It is one of four end-of-course assessments that Board policy requires students to take to graduate. The other tests, in Biology, Algebra I and English II, are required by federal law. However, students don’t have to pass the subject area tests to graduate, as the SBE offers several options for students to earn a diploma.