State education lags, despite gains

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 14, 2016

SAFE PLACE FOR LEARNING: Students in Algebra II work on a group assignment at Picayune Memorial High School. File photo.

SAFE PLACE FOR LEARNING: Students in Algebra II work on a group assignment at Picayune Memorial High School. File photo.

Last week, the Mississippi Department of Education released the findings from the annual Education Week Quality Counts report, which gave the state a “D” in K-12 education.
According to, the report is published each January and provides details on state-level efforts to enhance education.
According to a release from MDE, the average grades for two of three key performance indicators increased somewhat. The Chance of Success grade went from a D+ to a C- and K-12 Achievement went from F to D-. The “School Finance” grade remained a D+ and reported rated the country’s overall average a “C.”
The K-12 Achievement index integrates achievement levels and gains in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, high school graduation rates and students’ performance on Advanced Placement exams, the release states.
Quality Counts ranks Mississippi in the top 10 in the nation for NAEP gains in fourth grade math and reading and eighth grade math, the release states. Mississippi ranks 15th nationwide for combined proficiency rate growth on the NAEP.
“This national report demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction for improving academic achievement, but we still have more work to do,” State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said in the release. “We will continue to hold all students to high academic standards so that they are fully prepared for college and careers. We are committed to improving opportunities for every student in Mississippi. The state’s NAEP scores provide clear evidence that the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards are helping students achieve better academic outcomes. These gains are the most significant at the elementary level where students had the benefit of receiving instruction based on these higher standards since the first grade.”
According to the release, Mississippi received high marks in the Quality Count report for the state’s level of preschool and kindergarten enrollment and for lessening the fourth grade reading achievement gap for students in poverty. The state is performing this feat at seven times the national average.
Also noted in the K-12 Achievement index is that four percent of Mississippi students scored a passing grade of three or higher on an AP exam. The national average is 29.3 percent.
“As part of the board’s strategic plan, the MDE has implemented an AP initiative to increase the number of students enrolled in AP courses,” Wright said in the release. “We owe it to our students to provide them with access to rigorous coursework so that they will be prepared for the unlimited opportunities that exist after high school. A well-educated workforce is essential to moving our state economy forward.”

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