Is the State's School Grading System fair? That's the question asked by local researchers who used the Mississippi Department of Education's data in assessing the rating system.
Jackson State University's Mississippi Urban Research Center examined the Mississippi Accountability Grading System and found that poverty was linked to poor district performance. A panel discussed those findings Wednesday.
It consisted of a state senator, educator, school board member whose district was taken over by the state and a Jackson parent.
"We were asked the question whether or not we thought it was fair, and my answer to that was absolutely not," said Jackson Council PTA-PTSA President Rosaline McCoy.
She is the mother of a JPS high school student.
McCoy and panelists agree with the research center's assessment. It determined that wealthier school districts received better grades because of their resources.
"There are just so many different components to this that directly affect the performance level of our students," added McCoy. "But our accountability system and the creators of it, those factors are not included when they're creating the design for accountability".
Data analysts say the letter grade given to poor performing districts do not tell the whole story.
"Our research shows without a doubt the accountability score is more a measure or a reflection of poverty than it is school performance," said Dr. Melvin Davis, Executive Director of the Mississippi Urban Research Center. "The regression analysis shows that 60% of the change in the accountability score can be explained by the presence of the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch".
The panel also discussed a lack of school funding, access to technology, and low-income households as contributing factors in lower scoring school districts.
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