Schools and districts discuss how English Language component will impact overall grades

Schools and districts discuss how English Language component will impact overall grades
A new software program that cost more than $800 thousand of your taxpayer money is now being stopped. Superintendents and Special Education Directors around the state got the announcement via email August 31. (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A federal requirement will change the way your child’s school and district are graded. School districts around the state will be impacted by how well they can assist English Language Learners.

With a growing English language population, this is an issue that’s being handled in schools statewide. But the federal requirement gives them new timelines and consequences if they can’t get them speaking English in a certain time frame.

Schools have five years to get English Language learners up to speed and proficient. But an accountability task force is looking at proposed tweaks to the grading scale. One proposed change would increase or decrease that time frame based on the abilities and timing of the student’s arrival to the school.

“When you hear that your school is an A or B then this will be part of that," said DeSoto County Schools Director of Accountability and Research Ryan Kuykendall. "So, that’s why it’s very very important that it’s a fair and equitable way of doing this since not all districts and schools have this component. We want to make sure that those grades are reflected accurately.”

The current model is set up to meet new federal guidelines. Districts and schools received a preview of what their A-F grade would be with and without the EL component factored in.

“If it counted, a lot of grades would’ve shifted and I think that is some of the concerns you’re seeing here with this committee," noted Quitman High School Principal Howard Savage, Jr. "Because at the end of the day, like I said, that A-F is simple but at the end of the day if you’re an A and you drop down to a B or you’re a B and drop down to a C, there’s going to be consequences in the community and we don’t want it to have a negative impact.”

The accountability task force is charged with revisiting the grading system.

“We want to see that the goal is reasonable but also attainable," said Savage.

“The challenge has been how do you include this component in the model so that it’s equitable for districts that have zero EL students compared to district that may have 1,750 or more EL students,” said Paula Vanderford, Mississippi Department of Education Chief Accountability Officer.

Currently, if there are fewer than 10 English Language learners, the component isn’t factored in.

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