What is the state of charter schools in Mississippi?
Mississippi enacted its charter school law in 2010. In our annual rankings of state charter school laws in 2011, 2012, and 2013, it ranked as the weakest law in the country. In 2013, Mississippi enacted a significant overhaul of its law. In our most recent rankings of state charter school laws, Mississippi’s law ranked #17 out of 43.
Under its previous charter school law, the state allowed only up to 12 chronically low-performing schools to convert to charter status; provided weak autonomy, accountability, and funding; and required applicants to apply to the state board of education. No charter schools opened under this law.
Under its new charter school law, the state allows up to 15 start-ups and conversions per year; provides strong autonomy, accountability, and operational and categorical funding; and creates a new state authorizer to be the state’s sole authorizing entity. The state’s first two charter schools opened in August 2015.
Potential areas of improvement in Mississippi’s law include addressing open enrollment, clarifying teacher certification requirements, providing charter teachers with access to the state retirement system, providing applicants in all districts with direct access to the state authorizer, and providing equitable access to capital funding and facilities.
A state’s charter public school movement had to meet three conditions to be scored and ranked in this year’s report. First, the movement had to serve at least 2 percent of the state’s public school students. Second, the state had to participate in CREDO’s National Charter School Study 2013 so that we had a measure of student academic growth data for its charter public schools in comparison with its traditional public schools. Third, the state had to have a state accountability system in place that categorized all public schools on the basis of performance in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Mississippi’s movement did not meet at least one of these conditions, so we did not score and rank it in this year’s report.