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Mississippi Receives 2023 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation


For Immediate Release:  June 22, 2023

Mississippi Receives 2023 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation

JACKSON, Miss. – The Education Commission of the States has announced Mississippi as the 2023 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation recipient in recognition of the state’s laudable improvements in academic achievement among K-12 students.

In 2013, Mississippi was ranked 50th in K-12 achievement, according to Quality Counts, a national ranking. Since then, it has climbed to 35th, and state leaders credit two pieces of legislation for fueling the improvements: The Early Learning Collaborative Act, which established the first state-funded pre-K program, and the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which made reading instruction a major focus in K-3.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act allocated funding for communities, including school districts, Head Start sites, child care centers and nonprofits, to establish or expand high-quality early childhood education programs. The law provides a 1:1 state tax credit up to $1 million for participating individuals or corporations. The students who participate in programming at these collaboratives now have the highest kindergarten readiness scores in the state, and they have risen from 59% readiness in 2015 to 65.1% readiness in 2022.

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act provides $15 million annually to build the capacity of K-3 teachers and school leaders to effectively teach reading and monitor student progress. The MDE hires and assigns literacy coaches to schools where data show students struggle the most with reading. MDE also provides training on the science of reading to administrators, educator preparation program faculty, teachers in pre-K through third grade, and K-8 special education teachers. From 2015 to 2018, the passing rate for third-grade reading rose from 85% to 93%. When the passing score was raised in 2019 to bring it closer to proficiency, 86% of students met the higher standard. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Mississippi’s ranking for fourth grade reading scores rose from 50th in 2013 to 21st in 2022.

“The hard work of teachers, administrators and support staff, along with legislation, continues to lead to great outcomes for Mississippi students,” said Mike Kent, interim state superintendent of education. “This award is a resounding affirmation of our collective efforts and a strong endorsement of the effective policies and strategies that are improving student achievement in Mississippi.”

Education Commission of the States will present Mississippi leaders with the Newman Award at the 2023 National Forum on Education Policy, taking place July 12-14 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Frank Newman Award recognizes a state or territory that is enacting innovative education reforms or implementing programs that go beyond marginal or incremental changes to improve student outcomes on a large scale. Mississippi received the award in 2016 for having a transformational education reform package that prioritized early learning reading skills, expanded charter school opportunities and created a clear A through F rating system for schools, among other accomplishments.

The Frank Newman Award for State Innovation is one of three awards that Education Commission of the States gives each year to celebrate outstanding commitment to public education. The others are the James Bryant Conant Award, which recognizes individual achievement, and the Education Commission of the States Corporate Award, which recognizes a for-profit corporation, nonprofit organization or foundation.

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Media Contact:

Jean Cook, APR
Chief of Communication

Shanderia Minor
Public Information Officer