By Carey M. Wright, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Education
Updated March 2021
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Mississippi students can’t achieve great things. With the help of district and school leaders and dedicated teachers, students are rewriting the story about public education in the state.
We’ve all heard the negative narrative that comes from those who want to paint a bleak picture of public education, but it’s time to change that story – based on facts, not empty rhetoric. The narrative of “failing” Mississippi schools has been told for so long that many people don’t know that Mississippi students and schools are actually succeeding.
Our success is attracting national attention. The 2020 Education Week Quality Counts report recognized Mississippi as one of the five most improved states in the nation.
While Mississippi has more improvement to make, it is clear that the state’s steady achievements in education demonstrate that substantial progress has been made. The public education community is changing the narrative of what Mississippi students can accomplish with the right supports, higher expectations and bold initiatives.
Mississippi has achieved unprecedented academic success and student achievement is rising every year. Here’s the whole story.
Mississippi’s Rankings for NAEP Gains (2017 to 2019)
- No. 1 in 4th grade mathematics
- No. 1 in 4th grade reading
- No. 3 in 8th grade math
- No. 4 in 8th grade reading
- Only state with significant gains in three of four tested subjects
Mississippi’s Rankings for 10-year NAEP Gains (2009 to 2019)
- No. 2 in 4th grade mathematics
- No. 2 in 4th grade reading
- No. 2 in 8th grade math
- No. 4 in 8th grade reading
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) first recognized Mississippi for its ELC program in 2015 as one of only five states that meet all 10 of its quality standards. In 2020, NIEER recognized Mississippi as one of only four states whose publicly funded pre-K program meets all 10 of NIEER’s quality standards for early childhood education.
Literacy skills among students in pre-K through the 3rd grade have steadily improved:
- Advanced Placement (AP) participation and achievement (scores of 3 or higher) nearly doubled since 2013
- African-American students achieving an AP qualifying score of 3 or higher in 2018 increased 10 percent over the previous school year and Hispanic student achievement increased 7.3 percent
- All subgroups increased AP participation, including a 39.4 percent increase among minority students from 2016 to 2017
- Participation in dual credit courses more than doubled from 2015 to 2018
- Number of students completing Career and Technical Education programs increased from 6,912 in 2015 to close to 8,600 in 2018
- Mississippi’s graduation rate reached an all-time high of 87.7 percent in 2021, exceeding the most recent national rate of 85 percent
The statewide drop-out rate fell to an historic low of 8.8 percent in 2021, a decrease from 13.9 percent in 2014.
- Graduation rate increased for all subgroups from 2014 to 2021, with the rate for students with disabilities more than doubling from 23.2 percent to 55.4 percent.
- 73.5 percent of schools earned an A, B or C for the 2018-19 school year, an increase from 62.4 percent in 2016
- 69.7 percent of districts earned an A, B or C for the 2018-19 school year, an increase from 62.2 percent in 2016
- Since 2016, the number of schools and districts earning an A has more than doubled, with the number of A-rated schools jumping from 88 to 196, and A-rated districts increasing from 14 to 31 in 2019
- Among the 140 districts and five charter schools, 46 increased their letter grade from 2017-18 to 2018-19
- Among the state’s 877 schools, 258 increased their letter grade from last year
- Mississippi Succeeds Plan
- Mississippi State Board of Education Strategic Plan
- Superintendent's Annual Report