JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - A new test, a new rating system, and a whole new set of grades. On Thursday, the state Department of Education released the 2015-2016 report card for Mississippi schools.
Many coast schools performed well on the new Mississippi Assessment Program. Students in grades three through high school took the new test for the very first time last May. During the test change, schools received a waiver if their grades dropped. But now, the grades actually count.
Fourteen school districts across the state excelled on the 2016 MAP Accountability Results. Four of the "A" achievers came from South Mississippi. Long Beach ranked second in the state, Ocean Springs came in fourth, Jackson County earned fifth place, and Pass Christian tied with another school for ninth place.
"I am very excited and pleased that the Long Beach School District is the number one ranked school district on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the number two ranked school district in the State of Mississippi. Being ranked number two in the state does not happen by accident. It happens through years of hard work and high expectations. Our teachers, administrators, students, and parents are all to be commended for their efforts. Our community and school board expects academic excellence, and we are happy to have met their demands and expectations," said Long Beach School District Superintendent Dr. Jay Smith.
Biloxi was only one point away from making an "A" grade. Biloxi, along with most districts in the six southern counties, earned "B" grades. Those districts are: Gulfport, Hancock County, Stone County, Bay-Waveland, Pearl River County, Picayune, Harrison County, Pascagoula-Gautier, George County, and Poplarville.
Moss Point made the lowest grade on the coast with a "D."
"The scores for the 2015-2016 school year are a snapshot of what we accomplished last year that can be used to chart our future strategies for success. The areas of strength are indicative in 50-60 percent growth in all areas. Our areas of opportunity are clearly in proficiency. This year, we are implementing strategies to produce sustainable outcomes in growth and increase outcomes in proficiency. This is a baseline for the Moss Point School District. We look forward to continuing to progress in many areas and will work tirelessly to demonstrate that our students can compete with the rest of the students on the coast in student achievement," said Moss Point School District Superintendent Dr. Shannon Vincent.
Nineteen districts across the state made an "F," but none are from South Mississippi.
The new MAP assessment measured each school and district's performance and growth in Math, English, Language Arts, and Science for grades three through eight, and Algebra I and English II at the high school level. The grading system also factored in the graduation rate and College and Career Readiness, like ACT scores. It also took into account whether students are participating in and performing well in more accelerated programs, like Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and dual-enrollment college courses.
The state has changed the standardized tests three times over the last three years. Many school superintendents say they longed for some stability. This new MAP assessment should be in place for the next nine years.