Mississippi held its education ranking of 39th in the country in 2021, a substantial gain from its 48th position in 2014, according to new data released in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT® 2021 Data Book.
The data book describes how children across the United States were faring before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, Mississippi ranked 50th in the nation for child well-being, which tracks four domains: economic well-being, health, family and community, and education. Education was the only domain that ranked above 50th in 2021.
KIDS COUNT® ranks education by measuring pre-K enrollment, 4th grade reading skills, 8th grade math proficiency and the high school graduation rate.
Pre-K enrollment in Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives has grown from 1,700 in 2014-2015 to more than 3,000 in 2020-21. The Legislature doubled funding in 2021, which will boost enrollment to 6,000. Mississippi ranks No. 1 in the nation for gains in 4th grade reading and mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and No. 3 for gains in 8th grade mathematics. The state’s graduation rate reached an all-time high of 87.7% in 2021, exceeding the most recent national rate of 85%.
“Mississippi students, teachers and schools achieved historic academic gains before the pandemic and have not let up on their pursuit of higher academic achievement,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Education in Mississippi continues to be a bright spot among the indicators of child well-being.”
Though Mississippi’s overall child well-being ranking dropped to 50th from 49th in 2020, 13 of the 16 KIDS COUNT® indicators improved.
The Children’s Foundation of Mississippi will soon release the Blueprint for Improving the Future of Mississippi’s Children, which will help guide the state toward the best possible future for all Mississippi children.