New Assessment, Ambitious Goals in State Ed Plan

Posted 7/11/17

Next Sunday, July 16, is the deadline to give your feedback on Mississippi's new plan for public education in our state: Mississippi Succeeds. Each state is required to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education explaining how it will comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, the replacement for No Child Left Behind). The Parents' Campaign supports, generally, the ambitious goals for achievement laid out in the Mississippi Succeeds plan.

There are two issues of concern that you should understand and about which you might want to provide feedback (see The Parents' Campaign's public comments as submitted yesterday).

1. Addition of a new, more rigorous, Algebra II state test. The Mississippi Succeeds plan proposes to add a new, more rigorous, Algebra II state test in high school for students who take Algebra I in eighth grade (Section A, Item 2iii, page 7). Our concerns are as follows:

  • Accountability ratings of participating school districts are likely to drop. Because test scores on the more difficult Algebra II test are likely to be at least somewhat lower than on the current high school assessment (Algebra I), accountability ratings of districts that allow an advanced math track are likely to drop. The addition of the Algebra II state test, in effect, creates a penalty for districts that allow students to take advanced math in early years (only districts that offer Algebra I in grade eight will be required to administer the new test). This is likely to result in fewer opportunities for students to take an accelerated course of study. Read more here.

    • Possible remedy: The Parents' Campaign has provided feedback to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and the Mississippi Board of Education (MBE) suggesting that a bonus (to offset the penalty described above) be provided in the state accountability model to districts that administer the Algebra II assessment to students on an advanced math track.

  • Costs are high, Mississippians are test-weary. Given the costs of creating, administering, and scoring a new assessment, and given the unequivocal feedback we have received from numerous test-weary parents, students, and educators who oppose the addition of the Algebra II state test, we strongly urge the MDE and MBE to avoid adding any new state assessment if at all possible.

2. Resources that are insufficient for students and teachers to achieve the ambitious goals in the Mississippi Succeeds plan. We believe Mississippi students and teachers can achieve as much as students and teachers in any state when provided a level playing field. The current academic playing field is far from level. Students and teachers in other states are consistently provided considerably more in the way of resources that are required to meet academic goals as lofty as those laid out in the Mississippi Succeeds plan. By every measure, Mississippi students and teachers are already working with inadequate resources; the new plan demands more outcomes.

    • Suggested action: The Parents' Campaign has provided feedback to the MDE and the MBE suggesting that a Mississippi Succeeds budget be created in conjunction with the state plan, laying out the funding required for every student in every district to meet each of the plan's goals and objectives. The budget, and any deficits in funding that budget, should be reported publicly alongside accountability data. Read more here.

We encourage you to provide your feedback on these and other proposals in the Mississippi Succeeds plan using this survey. The final page of the survey provides a comment box in which you can submit your thoughts and suggestions. The survey asks that you include the section and page number you are referencing when providing specific feedback. For example, the addition of the Algebra II state test is in Section A, Item 2iii, on page 7.

You can read the entire Mississippi Succeeds plan here. We hope you will review the plan and provide your feedback. The deadline to submit your comments is next Sunday, July 16. Please share this information with your friends, and encourage them to participate in this important process.

Don't miss this opportunity to weigh in on this new plan, which will have a significant impact on our children's education.