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JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) decided today that further study is needed before a decision can be made regarding the potential elimination of the U.S. History end-of-course exam.
The SBE directed the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to work with the Accountability Task Force to research the impact that eliminating the U.S. History assessment would have on the statewide accountability system without changing the cut scores.
The Accountability Task Force is scheduled to meet on December 5.
The SBE’s decision followed a public comment period that opened on September 19 after the Mississippi Student Testing Task Force recommended eliminating the exam on the heels of an opinion poll of secondary education teachers. The opinion poll favored eliminating the exam. The U.S. History end-of-course exam is the only state test not required by federal or state law.
During the public comment period, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) received 108 written comments: 27 comments favored keeping the exam, 42 favored eliminating the exam, and 39 comments were off-topic or unclear about their position on eliminating the U.S. History assessment.
Mississippi’s A-F accountability system evaluates how well schools and districts are performing each year. Grades are based, in part, on how well students perform and progress from year to year on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) tests for English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Accountability grades for high schools and districts also include the four-year graduation rate, student performance on Biology, U.S. History and ACT tests, and student participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement and dual credit/dual enrollment courses.
The U.S. History assessment is the only statewide accountability measure of the academic standards for social studies. The other required assessments, MAAP and the ACT, measure student learning in English Language Arts, mathematics, and science only.
The U.S. History exam is currently given to high school students upon completion of the course. It is one of four end-of-course assessments that Board policy requires students to take to graduate. The other tests, in Biology, Algebra I and English II, are required by federal law. Students don’t have to pass the subject area tests to graduate, as the SBE offers several options for students to earn a diploma.
U.S. History will remain a required course for graduation even if a decision is reached to eliminate the U.S. History exam.