Despite the pandemic, the state of education in Mississippi is good

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The newly released Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) 2019-20 Superintendent’s Annual Report tells the story of how students, educators, and schools persisted in their pursuit of higher academic achievement while dealing with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Report highlights: 

  • Facts and figures about student enrollment and the educator workforce 
  • 2019-20 achievements
  • Immediate response to school building closures 
  • Long-term response to pandemic, including Mississippi Connects digital learning initiative 

No new achievement data were produced for the 2019-20 school year because state and national assessments were not administered. However, Mississippi’s record of significant, sustained improvement through the end of the previous year has been historic: 

  • 4th graders had achieved the No. 1 spot in the nation for gains on NAEP in reading and math, with 4th graders scoring higher than the nation’s public-school average in math and tying the nation in reading.
  • 8th graders had outpaced the nation for growth in math and held steady in reading; nationally, scores for most NAEP subjects dropped or remained flat.   
  • Black, white and Hispanic students from low-income homes in Mississippi had achieved higher scores than their counterparts nationally in all four NAEP subjects. 
  • 85.6% of students met the most challenging standard ever required under the Literacy-Based Promotion Act. 
  • Students in every grade had made significant, annual gains on statewide English Language Arts and mathematics assessments. When the tests were first administered in 2016, one-third of students scored on or above grade level in English Language Arts and Math. In 2019, closer to half reached those levels. 
  • The graduation rate hit an all-time high of 85%, on par with the national average. 
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Education.

“I am incredibly proud of our students, teachers, and leaders and the resilience they showed during incredibly challenging circumstances,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I am optimistic about the future of education in Mississippi because we have already proven what can happen when there is a singular focus on supporting students and improving academic achievement. When we put students first, Mississippi succeeds.” 

The Mississippi State Board of Education’s and MDE’s priorities for 2021 and beyond include maintaining a focus on literacy and high academic standards to prepare all students for college and careers, strengthening the state’s early childhood education infrastructure, continuing to help make teachers and school leaders more effective, making data-driven decisions to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps, and improving low-performing schools. 

Click here to view the report.

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