Superintendent perceptions of the accreditation process in the state of Mississippi

Betty Mae Merhundrew

Abstract

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 provides guidelines that all public schools in the United States must follow. Provisions of this law require that specific assessments be given to all students in schools across the United States and that individual states establish one system of accountability for all schools. Although much is being done, public schools are still lacking in the area of accountability reform. Many states set their own achievement goals and standards for which schools within their states are measured and then held accountable for students' performance. This study examined the perceptions of all Mississippi school superintendents toward the criteria used in determining accreditation and the impact of accreditation standards. The researcher used a descriptive and inferential quantitative approach to examine how the perceptions of superintendents were related to specific demographic characteristics based on their school districts. Moreover, the perceptions of superintendents were categorized by the size of school district and superintendents' type of position, elected or appointed. The results indicated that there was no significant difference in superintendents' perception of multiple criteria that should be used in the accreditation process as well as the impact that Mississippi standards of accreditation have on schools based on district size. However, results indicated that there was a significant difference in the perception of elected and appointed superintendents toward multiple criteria used when accrediting schools in the state of Mississippi. Superintendents had a difference of perceptions on dropout rate, building maintenance upkeep, and technology access. There was no significant difference in the perceptions of elected and appointed superintendents toward the impact Mississippi standards of accreditation have on schools. The results in this study also indicated that Mississippi public school superintendents agree that students' performance on state tests should be a part of multiple criteria used in the accreditation process, as well as teacher endorsement in their content area. Superintendents in the state of Mississippi are strongly against using test scores as sole criteria in the state public schools' accreditation process. Superintendents agreed that the impact of accreditation standards has motivated them as well as principals to direct their focus on improving instruction for students' learning, as well as increased stress for administrators and teachers. The results also indicated that superintendents strongly disagree that the impact of state standards has caused an increase in funding for public education in the state of Mississippi.