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Education Dept. Touts Annual Test Scores
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Dr. Paula Vanderford (center) of the Miss. Dept. of Education
MDE YouTube Video

More than two-thirds of Mississippi public schools are proficient, according to new state rankings.  MPB's Ezra Wall reports.

Nearly 70 percent of schools in Mississippi earned an A, B, or C grade on the Mississippi Department of Education's annual accountability system. The number of districts receiving an F grade fell from 19 to just 9. The test the state uses to assess student achievement has changed several times in recent years. But accountability officer Paula Vanderford says year-over-year comparisons are still valid.

"Well, one thing I want to emphasize that has maintained consistent is the components that we measure. What's been unfortunate is that we've had to measure those components using three different assessments," says Vanderford.

Vanderford says the state now has a baseline to compare future test results.

Nancy Loome is with the education advocacy group, the Parents Campaign. She is pleased with this year's results.

"What we've seen is very positive. We're seeing improvement across the board. We are seeing higher proficiency rates in every subject: math, reading, science and history. We are also seeing higher ACT scores across the board, higher graduation rates across the board. So there is good news in just about every category," says Loome.

According to the Department of Education, there are six districts that have earned an F grade for two consecutive years. That means they could be eligible for state takeover. Mississippi's three charter schools also did not fare well, with two earning D grades, and one earning an F for the second time.