Childress: Grade Does Not Reflect District’s ‘True’ Achievement
By Dillon Mullan
For Corinth Today
Corinth High School is receiving an unofficial “F” accountability rating from the state, and the district overall is getting a “C” after issues were disputed regarding how to measure the district, which operates under a unique curriculum different than other school districts.
On Thursday morning, the Mississippi State Board of Education voted to assign Corinth School District an unofficial C rating for the 2017-18 school year.
Since the Mississippi Department of Education approved Corinth’s application to become a District of Innovation in 2016, the district has been trying to establish an accountability model to match its unique curriculum.
Corinth uses the Cambridge International Curriculum that does not prepare students for the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program exams whose results shape the letter grades MDE assigns to school districts.
In September in the chancery court of Hinds County, Corinth schools filed a verified complaint for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the Mississippi Department and State Board of Education that was later denied due to jurisdictional issues.
In the lawsuit, the district documented that MDE initially agreed to work with Corinth to build its own accountability model before backing out. MDE now says state and federal law mandate all school districts to be evaluated using a single accountability system.
So Corinth is unofficially receiving an F rating for its high school and C rating overall.
“We are extremely disappointed by the board’s decision today. The grades do not reflect the true achievement of the Corinth School District,” superintendent Lee Childress said. “We are asking for a model that will measure our students based on what we are teaching as a district of innovation.”
On the ACT, Corinth’s class of 2018 posted an average composite score of 20.9, which is 2.6 points above the state average and .1 above the national average. MDE’s ratings can shape the reputation of a school district. Corinth worries that the high school’s F rating can be harmful to the area’s economy.
In the lawsuit from September, the district argued that the ratings “erroneously report the district as an underperforming district despite its history of successful performance… will be personally and professionally damaging to the reputations of the District…[and] will have a damaging effect on the community’s ability to recruit new economic development and maintain existing economic development due to the perception of the District as an under-performing district.”
On Thursday, Childress attended the state board of education meeting along with four members of Corinth’s school board. Between the October meeting of the state board of education, when Corinth’s grade was first delayed, and Thursday’s ruling, Childress says that there was no communication between MDE and the district. Going forward, Corinth schools will continue to pursue conversations with MDE about establishing an alternate accountability model.
“It’s my hope that over the next several weeks that we can schedule a meeting to begin those conversations,” Childress said. “Corinth teachers are doing an outstanding job and we all know that the MAAP results do not reflect their efforts.”