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Mississippi Success Story

Updated Jan. 23, 2024

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. 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 Education Week Quality Counts report ranked Mississippi No. 2 in the nation for improvement in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Quality Counts ranked Mississippi No. 2 in 2021 for closing 4th grade reading achievement gap between students in low-income families and their wealthier peers. What is more, Mississippi's Quality Counts ranking for K-12 achievement has risen from 50th in 2013 to 35th in 2021.   

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.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Mississippi 4th graders scored at the national average in both reading and math. Mississippi’s economically disadvantaged 4th graders achieved higher scores in reading and math than their peers nationally and in the South. This achievement holds steady among black, white and Hispanic students living in poverty.

Mississippi’s Rankings for NAEP Gains (2011 to 2022)

  • No. 1 in 4th grade mathematics
  • No. 1 in 4th grade reading
  • No. 3 in 8th grade math
  • No. 7 in 8th grade reading
  • Only state with significant gains in two of four tested subjects

Early Childhood Education


Literacy skills among students in pre-K through the 3rd grade have steadily improved:

  • 61.4 percent of kindergarteners met the end-of-year target score in spring 2023, up from 57.7 percent in spring 2022. 
  • 84.9 percent of 3rd graders passed the 3rd Grade Reading Assessment after their final attempt in 2023, which means the large majority of 3rd graders are meeting the highest reading standard ever required under the Literacy-Based Promotion Act

Student Proficiency

Advanced Learning and Career Preparation

  • Advanced Placement (AP) participation and achievement (scores of 3 or higher) doubled since 2013
  • African-American students achieving an AP qualifying score of 3 or higher in 2023 increased 15.6 percent over the previous school year and Hispanic student achievement increased 11.5 percent
  • The AP exam pass rate reached 34.5 percent in 2023
  • Participation in dual credit courses more rose from 6.6 percent in 2016 to 14.4 percent in 2023, with a 94.7 percent pass rate in 2023
  • Mississippi’s graduation rate reached an all-time high of 89.4 percent in 2023, exceeding the most recent national rate of 86 percent
  • The statewide drop-out rate fell to 8.5 percent in 2023, a decrease from 13.9 percent in 2014. 

  • Graduation rate for students with disabilities tripled from 23.2 percent to 70.0 percent.

2022-23 Accountability

  • 87 percent of schools earned an A, B or C for the 2022-23 school year, an increase from 62.4 percent in 2016
  • 91 percent of districts earned an A, B or C for the 2022-23 school year, an increase from 62.2 percent in 2016

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