Upcoming MDE Assessment Transitions
The Grenada School District has made great strides in increasing the level of student achievement. This achievement progress has been measured by comparisons and testing of the MS Curriculum Frameworks established by the MDE (Mississippi Department of Education). The GSD has modified teaching and testing strategies to fully comply with these Frameworks, and, as a result, our District has received a “Successful” rating label by MDE. This past school year Grenada students’ scores ranked fourteen QDI points above the State average! (Student results are interpreted by comparisons of a measurement called “QDI”). The Middle School is labeled as “High Performing,” an achievement that ranks GMS in the top 25% of schools in Mississippi! These labels enable our area to be competitive with districts across the State with a status that also enables our county to be viewed as an optimum location for business and industry.
However, as with most businesses and entities in the global marketplace, districts must constantly adjust to the current environment to remain successful and on the cutting edge. To more effectively align with educational standards nationwide, Mississippi has begun phasing in a new benchmark and testing system, Common Core State Standards, into elementary schools throughout the State this year. The Common Core Standards will ensure that participating states will be teaching the same curriculum and testing in the same way. MDE and the Governor of Mississippi have mandated that educators transition from the MS Curriculum Frameworks to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). These Standards were developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and delineate a core set of academic standards. To date, 44 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Standards, affecting how math and language arts are taught in schools around the country and ensuring students are all held to the same level. These Standards are aligned with college and work expectations, internationally benchmarked, research-based, and contain content requiring higher-order thinking and the application of knowledge. MDE states that this initiative is important to provide consistency, prepare students to compete globally, offer more focused professional development, and provide the opportunity to compare and evaluate policies across states that affect student achievement.
The State suggested timeline for implementation defines the 2011-2012 year as the target to implement the new Standards in grades K-2, grades 3-8 in 2012-2013, grades 9-12 in 2013-2014, and by 2014-2015, all State testing will comply with CCSS. The implementation will be a multi-year process of integrating the new Standards into classroom instruction until CCSS has replaced the current MS Curriculum Frameworks.
These mandates will be a series of challenges for our District and for districts across our State, raising the benchmarks and expectations in Mississippi schools. These new requirements will put a lot of pressure upon our District, but we feel that the students and teachers are up to the challenge. These transitions will be implemented incrementally, using the most effective strategies available. Teachers will combine the Standards with the existing MS Frameworks until the transition is completed. These new Standards will require even more focus on the part of our teachers, staff, and administrators as we face the challenges of academic competition with districts across our State, as well as, comparisons with 43 states and the District of Columbia.