The state Board of Education has approved a rule that would allow students to participate in extra-curricular activities, even if their school district has lost its accreditation. Education officials say high-performing students were forced to transfer out of districts that desperately needed them.
The Board of Education voted yesterday, to revise a section of the Mississippi Public School Accreditation Standards. The new rule gives districts one year to address accreditation problems, before imposing cuts to sports, bands and clubs. Pat Ross is the Chief Academic Officer at the Department of Education.
"If a school district has its accreditation withdrawn they have one calendar year from the date of the withdrawal to remedy the problems," says Ross. "After that year, if they have not remedied the problem then they lose 50 percent of their extra-curricular activities. The following year if they still have not fixed the problems and their accreditation has not moved to probation or accredited then they would lose 100 percent of their extra-curricular activities."
One of the major reasons for the rule change was to prevent students from transferring out of schools that were already facing academic challenges. According to a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics, students who participate in extra-curricular activities are also more likely to pass their classes. John Kelly is the Chair of the Board of Education.
"We thought by pulling away any extra-curricular activities if a school were found not to be in compliance then that would pressure on parents, educators and everybody else," Kelly says. "But that didn't happen. We're acknowledging that we got it wrong the first time, and we're trying to correct that."
The decision to accept the changes was not unanimous. Johnny Franklin of Bolton was appointed to the board earlier this year. He says the state has lost a valuable resource.
"I'm all for young people participating in sports, cheerleading and all that type thing," says Franklin. "I am a huge proponent, and I think it has value. But also that is the only option we have to get parents concerned and get children concerned if they think they might lose something thought this process. Now they lose nothing."
Earlier this year, the board of education also made it possible to place a school district in a state of emergency under state control without stripping it of accreditation.