JACKSON- On January 29, State Auditor Stacey Pickering spoke to the House Appropriations Committee where he announced that he could not verify the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for this year based on the lack of reliability and validity of the data provided by the Department of Education.
Auditor Pickering then wrote a letter to elected officials on February 5 formally stating his decision, along with an explanation and recommendations.
Recommendations from the Auditor’s office to increase accountability with education spending:
- Any statewide equity funding formula should provide standardized, auditable elements, which result in equitable distribution of state funds. Presently, the Average Daily Attendance is the basis of the MAEP formula and the key determinant of the base student cost but it is inequitable and un-auditable. OSA recommends a standardized definition of Average Daily Attendance that uniformly accounts for daily attendance, regardless of the schedule, format, or the length of day at school.
- OSA recommends defining “at-risk” for MAEP funding and accountability purposes based on more accepted and auditable indicators than free lunch counts. Identifying and tracking at-risk students and targeting programs around the reasons students are at-risk would better allow districts and the MDE to study trends and to develop and refine the best programs that lead to at-risk student success and achievement.
- OSA’s audits have shown disturbing trends of non-compliance and of not providing required textbooks to students, as required under the law. OSA proposes adjusting the law to better provide funding for relevant learning materials and further, in tested subjects, requiring that curriculum and standardized tests be aligned to take advantage of higher standards of teaching using more than just test prep materials.
- There is presently no oversight responsibility on laws regarding transportation funding. OSA proposes reverting to previous law requiring MDE oversight of the funds they request as part of the formula. Additionally, OSA recommends that MDE be required to take into account road miles, road conditions, bus conditions, etc. when distributing funding.
This is the second time in four years that Auditor Pickering has been unable to certify the MAEP request received from the Department of Education.
- MAEP FY 2014 Final Estimate and Related Recommendations
- OSA 2013 Education Accountability Recommendations
- MAEP Year 1 Flow Chart