Dr. Ray Morgigno, interim State Superintendent (Photo from MDE report)
All-time high graduation rate, more students taking AP tests, increased third grade reading scores, and the success of career coaches all positive signs of Mississippi’s work to improve its K-12 education system.
The Mississippi Department of Education is touting the many educational achievements recorded in the Magnolia State over the past decade in its Annual State Superintendent’s Report for 2023, outlining the state’s “Marathon Achievement.”
“Mississippi has so much to be proud of regarding the success of our public schools,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Ray Morgigno.
The report shows assessment scores for the prior school year were at a record high of 52.6 percent of students scoring proficient in math, 46.7 percent doing so in English, 59.4 percent scoring proficient in science, and 71.4 percent reaching that mark in U.S. History.
Third grade initial passing rates in reading also saw an increase to a record-setting 76.3 percent.
The state education department reports that more high schoolers are earning their diploma, as the graduation rate increased to 88.9 percent – an all-time high. However, the dropout rate did inch up a half of a percentage point to 9 percent.
The graduation rate for students with disabilities also increased, from 23.2 percent in 2014 to 67.1 percent last school year.
State Senator Angela Hill (R) said she is glad the legislation she worked on a decade ago is showing results.
“With the input of my sister, who taught many years in both regular education and exceptional education, we crafted a good common sense Third Grade Literacy Based Promotion Act that was based on the science of reading, the way the brain processes information into long term memory, and other best practices,” Senator Hill told Magnolia Tribune. “We looked at other model bills across the country and incorporated what we believed to be the necessary components for success in Mississippi.”
Hill said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was instrumental in getting the bill adopted in Mississippi.
“I congratulate the teachers and students for their success, and the Legislature, (then) Lt. Governor Reeves, Speaker (Philip) Gunn and Gov. (Phil) Bryant for having the courage to put the students first,” Senator Hill said. “There is more work to be done in improving the curriculum standards across the board. We need more academic content and less DEI and SEL being pushed into our schools.”
Other achievements also recorded in the Department of Education report focused on advanced placement students and career and technical programs.
Students who took advanced placement tests set records last year, with 12,044 students taking 16,983 exams, of which 5,860 exams earned qualifying scores. The report states the 14.8 percent increase in students taking the exams when compared to the prior school year reflect an increase in participation. There was also a noted 5.1 percent increase in the number of exams that received qualifying scores. Passing rates for the tests increased from 32.9 percent in 2022 to 34.5 percent in 2023.
Through the state’s Career and Technical Educational programs, 5,346 students received an industry certification they can use to start on a career path after high school. Careers included in those certifications were transportation and logistics (1,559), manufacturing (1,333), architecture and construction (1,052), business management and administration (394), information technology (390), human services (219) and STEM related fields (73).
The Mississippi Department of Education stated in the release of the report that a 320 percent increase in the number of literacy coaches occurred in the past decade, from 29 in the 2013-2014 school year to 122 currently. The career coaches assist teachers and other school officials with “childhood education, literacy, special education, math, digital learning and school improvement.”
Both Governor Tate Reeves (R) and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann (R) have recently noted the successes of career coaches in schools and have called for more resources to add more across the state.
Overall, 87 percent of the state’s school districts and 91 percent of schools earned a C accountability score or better last school year. That was an improvement from 2016, where 62 percent of districts and schools earned a C or better.
In addition, as noted in the report, this year was the first year the Mississippi Department of Education had the opportunity to recognize schools that make commitments to support families of military personnel after Governor Reeves established the Military Star School program in 2022. To be eligible, schools need to address the unique needs that students of military families face by appointing a school liaison and providing professional development for the school’s staff.
Sixty-one schools across the state received the Military Star School designation last year. Mississippi is now one of 31 states in the nation with such a program.
Read more from the annual State Superintendent’s Report here.
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