State education system gets low marks

djournal-Education_apple_booksBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

Mississippi ranked at or near the bottom of the country on a recent survey of the nation’s education systems.

The state ranked in the bottom six in the three categories measured in Education Week’s 18th annual Quality Counts rankings, which were released this morning.

Mississippi received an F in the “K-12 achievement” category and ranked 51st in the country, including the District of Columbia. It took a D-plus in “chance for success” and ranked 49th and got a D in “school finance” (46th).

“I view the results as motivation to stay the course in improving education in this state,” State Superintendent Carey Wright said in a statement.



The publication’s survey provided a report-card grade and a ranking for the nation, states and the District of Columbia in six key education indicators. In addition to the three updated categories, states carried over their 2013 ranking for “transitions and alignment” and received their 2012 ranking for two categories: “teaching profession” and “standards, assessment and accountability.”

Mississippi received an A in the accountability category and ranked 10th best. It received a C for transitions and alignment (36th) and a D for teaching profession (41st).

Wright said the high grade in accountability is a credit to work done in recent years.

“I believe this grade validates the work of the Mississippi Board of Education, Mississippi Department of Education and legislative and elected leaders over the last few years to increase accountability and to challenge students academically through the adoption and implementation of Common Core State Standards,” Wright said.

Of the three updated categories, Mississippi retained the same grade for each that it had last year. However, its rank dropped by one for both “school finance” and “K-12 achievement.”

States were not given an overall grade this year. For the previous two years, Mississippi was graded C-minus.

“We have an historic opportunity to chart a new course for our students,” Wright said. “We must forge ahead with supporting higher expectations for our students, providing technical assistance and professional development to our teachers and school leaders and working together to offer all of our students the education they deserve.”

The nation received a C-plus in “chance for success,” C-minus in “K-12 achievement” and C in “school finance.” It carried over a B-minus for “transitions,” B for “standards” and C for “teaching profession.”

The “chance for success” index is based on 13 indicators that span a person’s life from cradle to career. It includes family income, parent education, preschool and kindergarten enrollment, school performance, adult educational attainment and median annual income.

The “K-12 achievement” index examines 18 indicators, including the percentage of fourth- and eighth-grade students scoring proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, gains and achievement gaps from that test, graduation rate and Advanced Placement scores.

School finance examines equity and spending, looking at per-pupil expenditures and using several formulas to rank states.

“While we must fund education at a level that helps our schools meet higher standards, money isn’t the sole answer to improving education,” Wright said. “It will take the collective will of the state to focus efforts on student achievement.”

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  • Tony

    MS rates highest in Accountability and Standards, so what do we focus on in improving education? Changing Accountability and Standards. As long as we ignore providing adequate resources, we can implement Common Core Standards and change Teacher and School Accountability models, but education will still lag.

    • charlie

      MS teachers are very good at following the rules that the legislature puts forth. Then when it doesn’t work, the politicians blame the teachers. For any school system to do well, parents and students must bear responsibility as well as the classroom teachers to excel.

  • Greg

    Chris, while your trying to pound the lack of success of MS schools and the need for Common Core down everyone’s throat, why not mention the fact that MS teachers are also at the bottom of the nation in pay. We are losing good teachers to other states, and those coming out of college are going elsewhere because MS is FAILING when it comes to paying it’s teachers.

    • Thile

      A legislator filed a bill this week (Monday or Tuesday; they haven’t voted on it yet) that would tie MAEP funding to how well a school displays the flag or if those schools’ students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Yes, they are REALLY serious about improving education in the state.

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  • Winston Smith

    I’m inclined to believe that our failing schools have less to do with our teachers, and more to do with the amount of idiots that procreate in our state.