- Mississippi’s plan provides a comprehensive overview of current facts, figures, and performance across multiple educational components. It clearly ties the ESSA plan to the state’s greater strategic plan and provides a foundational understanding for the ESSA plan, which increases accessibility for all audiences.
- The state includes a strong focus on raising student achievement and accelerating college and career readiness. The state has set ambitious goals and should be commended for setting a high target for proficiency for all students and all subgroups of students. The plan’s focus on academic growth and accelerated coursework is an area of real strength.
- Mississippi also has a clearly defined A-F school and district grading system that ensures stakeholders know how schools are serving their students. The policy on the cut scores for the A-F system is commendable, as the plan calls for a reassessment of these thresholds in the future to ensure the rigor of the school grades. Another strong element of the plan is its inclusion of science and social studies assessments, which supports a more well-rounded education approach.
- The state’s plan to place low-performing schools and districts in the state’s Achievement School District is a rigorous intervention and a strength of the plan. This strategy will enable the lowest-performing schools to receive the attention and support needed to improve.
- Mississippi’s plan does not directly include subgroup performance in its A-F school grades. While it does include an indicator capturing the growth of the lowest-performing quartile of students, it is unclear whether schools could receive high grades overall even if individual subgroups perform poorly. The plan might also have benefited from the inclusion of a non-test-based indicator, such as chronic absenteeism, for elementary and middle schools.
- Mississippi has not incorporated an indicator of progress toward English language proficiency in its A-F grades, which is at odds with both ESSA’s requirements and the needs of the state’s population of English learners, who are generally lower-performing than their English-speaking peers.
- Mississippi’s intervention plans for low-performing schools primarily consist of coaching and technical assistance, which lack evidence to show that these steps will lead to turning around low-performing schools.
- Additionally, Mississippi has weak requirements for exiting improvement status, which could result in exiting schools from additional supports without their showing actual improvement in student performance.