Mississippi is continuing to improve public education. According to the 2018 state progress report from the Southern Regional Education Board, (SREB) in a report titled Looking Closer: Mississippi, it states that Mississippi is seeing academic gains from early childhood education to postsecondary studies.
The Mississippi pre-K program was one of eight in the nation to meet at least nine of the 10 nationally recognized standards of quality. Fourth graders in Mississippi outpaced the region and nation in gains in reading and math achievement at both the Basic and Proficient levels on NAEP. The state ranked first in the nation for gains at the Basic level in both subjects and second for gains at the Proficient level.
Eighth graders outpaced the region and nation in gains in reading achievement at both the Basic and Proficient levels on NAEP. The state ranked second in the nation for gains at the Proficient level and third for gains at the Basic level. The report also states that Mississippi’s high school graduation rate outpaced the nation and the region in growth. The percentage of English language learners who graduated from high school with a standard diploma exceeded that of their peer group nationwide.
In college, the first-year persistence rate of first-time, full-time students at public, 4-year colleges and universities outpaced the region in growth, indicating that more first-time, full-time college students returned to college for a second year.
“Once again, Mississippi is receiving positive, national attention for the significant strides students are making toward improving educational outcomes,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “The 2018 SREB report demonstrates that the strategies that Mississippi has put in place to improve student achievement from pre-K through college are working. I am proud of all of the students, educators and school leaders across the state who are changing the trajectory of education in Mississippi.”
To help policymakers see where their states stand and how they can improve, SREB monitors the progress of 16 member states on goals across all education levels.
“It is critical that states take a closer look at their individual successes and challenges,” said SREB President Stephen Pruitt, “to see what has worked, what still needs to be done, and what we can learn from one another. SREB remains committed to working with states to help them continue that progress.”
Pruitt added that as a region, the South has made impressive gains in eighth grade reading achievement and continues to lead the nation in pre-K access and quality. Moreover, the percentage of ninth graders moving on to 12th grade in four years increased in all 16 SREB states. In 2016 the region’s high school graduation rate exceeded the national rate for the fourth straight year.
Some of the top challenges in the SREB region are high-quality pre-K programs which are not available to all children who need them.
In addition, only a third of fourth graders are proficient readers and far too many working-age adults have no high school or postsecondary credentials. Pruitt said that in order to get more students ready to enter college and the workplace, states will need to continually monitor student outcomes and evaluate their policies and practices, according to this year’s SREB state progress reports.