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JPS, charter schools struggle again in latest accountability rankings

GRADES: The Mississippi Department of Education issued its annual accountability grades today. Photo by Steve Wilson

The Mississippi Department of Education released its annual accountability scores Thursday and schools in Jackson — either from the Jackson Public School District or the three charter schools — largely struggled to make the grade.

The Mississippi State Board of Education finally approved the release of the grades several weeks after they'd been embargoed for later release to news organizations including Mississippi Matters.

It's the third year in a row that JPS has been given an F grade and its total score as a district was slightly improved, rising from 444 in 2017 to 456. Half of the 60 JPS schools earned a failing grade, the same number as last year.

JPS was ranked 10th worst in the state, a huge improvement from last year when the district was third from the bottom.

Since 2011 when the MDE switched to a letter grade system for its accountability scores, the JPS has scored no higher than a D.

Reimagine Prep was the only one of the three charters to show improvement over last year's grades with a passing grade of a C.

Smilow Prep was given a D grade and Midtown Public Charter School was rated as an F grade, same as last year.

The highest graded high schools in the JPS were Murrah and Provine, which earned D grades. The remaining five were all rated with F grades. Ten out of the system's 12 middle schools received failing grades.

Barack H. Obama Magnet Elementary, formerly known as Davis Magnet, finished in the top spot in the state among elementary and middle schools for the second consecutive year. Eight of the nine JPS schools that earned A grades were elementary schools.

JPS wasn't the only district to flunk the annual accountability evaluation, as 21 districts out of 147 total in the state earned F grades. Only nine did in 2017. There were 28 districts that earned D grades, down from 36 in 2017.

According to the report, 274 out of 893 public schools in the state (30.7 percent ) earned failing grades for accountability. That's four less than last year.

There was some good news, with three more school districts climbing up into the echelon of the top grade. Eighteen districts earned A grades, with the Enterprise School District knocking off last year's top scoring district, Petal, from the top spot.

Ocean Springs, Oxford and Clinton rounded out the top five scoring districts. Only 15 districts earned top marks in 2017.

The biggest improvement district-wise was the North Tippah School District, which improved from a C in 2017 to an A grade this year.

Twenty eight school districts improved their grades, with five improving from a B to an A grade and 10 improving from a C to a B grade.

Forty two school districts earned B grades, while 37 districts finished with a C. Those numbers have fallen from last year, when 43 districts received B grades and another 43 finished with C grades.

The accountability grades are partially based on the performance of students and the annual progress made on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests for English language arts and mathematics, which are administered annually to students in the third through eighth grades and in high school.

Also figured into the accountability grades are the four-year graduation rate, student performance on biology, U.S. history and ACT tests, and student participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement.

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