Miss. schools need action, latest NEAP scores show

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, November 16, 2013

The National Center for Education Statistics released its 2013 Nation’s Report Card on Thursday, and the news for Mississippi was mixed, at best.

The report details student achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is given every two years to a sample of fourth- and eighth-graders. The NAEP tests students in math and reading.

Mississippi students showed only slight improvement over the 2011 report in both subjects. And while fourth-grade scores for math and science have improved significantly over the past 15 to 20 years the tests have been given, the state’s eighth-grade sores remain virtually unchanged.

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More troubling, however, is the high percentage of students who scored below the basic achievement level on the tests.

When you compare Mississippi to other states and to the national average, it’s not pretty. We rank at or near the bottom.

Newly appointed state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright used the NAEP scores as a chance to point toward the need to support Common Core Standards, expand the state’s early childhood education pilot programs and increase literacy education efforts. That’s a fairly competent political argument to make heading into a session where Common Core will be challenged (even if marginally) and the expansion of both early childhood education and literacy education programs is unlikely. However, it’s not enough just to point toward existing plans as the answer.

That Mississippi scores have remained unchanged for so long — especially in the middle school grade — is a tremendously powerful indicator that a new approach is needed. As the state implements the Common Core Standards, it should take a hard look at revising curriculum and instructional approaches in districts where test scores are the lowest. This may seem like too much micro-managing to those on the local level, but — quite frankly — those at the local level of habitually poor-performing districts have failed for too long.


The Dispatch