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Report ranks state schools' performance 51st in the nation

schoolACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Despite strong state standards, Mississippi students are not catching up to the rest of the nation, ranking last in a school performance evaluation released today.

Education Week’s Quality Counts report puts Mississippi 51st among the states and Washington, D.C., in K-12 student achievement. That is actually down a notch from last year. Only Mississippi and D.C. were graded “F” in student achievement. Massachusetts and Maryland, the two top states, each earned a “B” grade from the education newspaper.

Mississippi also ranked among the lowest 10 states in providing young people a chance for success in life, financing schools and improving teaching. The state ranked somewhat higher on how well K-12 connects to preschool, college and kindergarten, and ranked 10th for standards.

Education Week did not issue overall grades to states in 2014 report, unlike in previous years.

“We must forge ahead with supporting higher expectations for our students, providing technical assistance and professional development to our teachers and school leaders, and working together to offer all of our students the education they deserve,” said new state superintendent Carey Wright in a statement yesterday.

Mississippi’s best ranking, as has been the case for several years, was in the area of standards, where the state got an “A” and ranked 10th.

The state’s math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress outstripped growth nationwide over the last 10 years, with the state ranking ninth in gains among eighth graders and 21st in gains among fourth graders. But even after those gains, only 26 percent of fourth graders scored proficient in math while only 21 percent of eight graders scored proficient.

Proficiency standards on the NAEP are generally higher than those that Mississippi sets on its own tests, which means large shares of Mississippi students get good ratings on state tests but score lower on NAEP.

Reading gains have lagged. Eighth graders actually scored worse in reading in 2013 than in 2003, while improvements in fourth-grade reading lagged the national average. Gov. Phil Bryant and lawmakers focused in on reading instruction in 2013, passing a law that mandates all third-graders read at a basic or higher level before being promoted.

“Our third grade gate policy alone will have tremendous positive impact,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement. “We know that what we were doing in the past was not generating the results students need to succeed. If we are vigilant about implementing the reforms we have adopted, we will see serious improvements.”

The state has only provided funding and hired reading coaches to help improve instruction in small share of schools, although Bryant and others want to increase funding in the 2014 Legislature.

Mississippi ranked third from the bottom at providing students a chance for success, getting a “D-plus.” Only New Mexico and Nevada ranked lower. The state was dragged down by its low income and existing educational levels, which Education Week judged to be a handicap for students and evidence of poor outcomes for adults.

The state got a “D” for school finance, ranking 46th. The state spends 3.6 percent of its taxable resources, about the national average, on education, but because Mississippi is poor, that comes out to spending that’s significantly below average, even once regional cost differences are cancelled out. Plus, property-rich districts spend more on students than property-poor districts, making spending unequal across the state’s 151 districts.


About Wally Northway


  1. I wish that someone would get a clue. All of this testing is a money making venture for the companies and for government officials. How can anyone rank schools, students, or states when the testing and evaluation process is different from one state to another.

  2. This article is very alarming. Immediately, I said to myself, “give them something to work with.” Only to read on further, to learn in the article that “property-rich districts spend more on students than poor-districts; making spending unequal across the state’s 151 districts.” No equality that must be fixed. I do not consider my native state of “Mississippi poor. It is rich in history and natural resources. I am a successful and educated product of Mississippi. I’m making it a priority to become instrumental in changing the way we are compared.

  3. Here’s an example:
    Meridian hasn’t built a high school in years.
    I graduated from there as did my parents and grandparents and so on and so on.
    New schools need to be built.
    The Community College does a fantastic job, however, of getting students to
    go there. Lots of students go on to the four year universities.

    The state of Mississippi needs to build new schools in places other than the
    Suburbs of Jackson and then hire more teachers. Education is still the KEY in
    turning MS around one day. Kids want to learn, kids who are so poor hope to
    change things for themselves one day but will always be held back by the
    educational big shots who choose to never build new schools.
    It all comes back around to using the money to build better schools and get teachers
    hired. There’s been improvement yes, but still the numbers are the poorest in the U.S.
    MS politicians who can get the improvements done, need to get it done. Just go do it. If you build the schools, they will come, learn and grow, and change Mississippi in the right direction. If they keep it the same, and don’t build new schools, nothing will ever change.
    Negative news all the time keeps a state negative all the time. People in MS are stuck in hearing bad news and how poor and uneducated they are. People who are in power in MS need to use their power and change things for the entire State. It has always been this way is no longer acceptable. MS people want to be looked upon as smart and bright and educated and not what is heard each day about them. Turn uneducated into EDUCATED. Turn old worn out school buildings into NEW SCHOOLS. Turn typewriters into COMPUTERS.

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