Public education in Mississippi ranked last, yet again, on Education Week’s Quality Counts report that was released last week. The state received a “F” grade for academic achievement, and a “D” for the chance of success for students.
The silver lining? Mississippi received a grade of “B” for its early childhood programs, compared to a national average of “D+.” Mississippi’s early childhood initiatives are certainly progressive and the state ranks second nationally when it comes to Head Start enrollment (third nationally when it comes to Kindergarten enrollment and access to full-day Kindergarten programs). Getting kids signed up for early childhood programs is just the start of course. These children need to learn enough while in those classrooms, but getting them started as early as possible is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to the future academic success of students in the state.
There is no easy fix for Mississippi. Even academic programs targeted for at-risk students can only go so far. With a poverty rate of 24 percent in the state, the problems that impact student success in classrooms extend far beyond it. To really see a difference in student outcomes, the state needs economic initiatives that boost the life quality of residents and give more opportunities to students once they are done with school. Recognizing that these outside factors go hand-in-hand with student outcomes in classrooms is the first step toward moving Mississippi out of last place and putting it on course to be a P-12 leader in the country.
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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.