CHRIS KIEFFER: Report shows Mississippi is making educational progress

Mississippi received some very encouraging education news last week when the Southern Regional Education Board released its annual report.
The report highlighted educational gains the state has made in several areas.
Mississippi’s fourth-graders achieved the largest percentage-point increase in the nation in the number of students reading at or above the basic level on the National Assessment of Education Progress test. The state had 55 percent of students score at or above the basic level in 2009, a 4 percent increase from 2007.
On that same test, also known as the National Report Card, Mississippi narrowed its achievement gap for black fourth-graders in reading and black eighth-graders in math.
The SREB report also noted gains the state made in ACT score and in the number of students continuing education beyond high school.
Between 1999 and 2009, the state increased its composite ACT score and the number of students who took the standardized test. The percentage of ACT-takers increased by 8 points to 93 percent, while the composite score increased by 0.2 points.
Mississippi enrolled its high school graduates in the state’s post-secondary institutions at a higher rate than U.S. peers. Also, 90 percent of seniors in the fall of 2006 graduated from high school in the spring of 2007, a larger percentage than the rest of the nation.
The state continues to have its challenges, as well. The SREB report noted that Mississippi’s poverty rate among children is 12 percentage points higher than the U.S. rate.
Continued improvement also is needed, as noted in a joint press release sent by the Mississippi Department of Education, the State Board of Community and Junior Colleges and the Institutes of Higher Learning.
Mississippi’s dropout rate is still too high, and its achievement gap is still too broad. Even with the improvement, its scores on the NAEP still trail national averages.
Yet as Mississippi’s educators continue their hard work to teach the state’s children, it is helpful to receive positive news that things are headed in the right direction.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal