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Investment in Education Raises Student Achievement

November 1, 2016

The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) have been working strategically over the past three years to improve student outcomes. Our work has been targeted, deliberate and focused in order to make the maximum impact with the resources and flexibility we have been afforded.


Mississippians are now seeing a significant return on investment (ROI) as a result these efforts. This means potentially less money will be diverted for remediation costs and more money will be directed to classrooms. The long-term ROI will produce ongoing savings for the state because students are being prepared to be successful in college and the workforce, and to flourish as parents and citizens. 


Literacy-Based Promotion Act


The Literacy-Based Promotion Act of 2013 provided $9.5 million in the first year and $15 million in subsequent years to raise literacy levels in grades K-3. Results for 2015-16: 


  • 63 percent of kindergarteners met or exceeded the end-of-the-year target score that categorizes them as transitional readers. Students at this level are beginning to read unfamiliar words and easy reader material. In 2014-15, 54 percent of kindergarteners achieved this score. 
  • 87 percent of students passed the 3rd grade reading assessment on their first try, an increase from 85 percent last year. After the final retest, 92 percent of students passed the test. 
  • The passing rate (Levels 3, 4 or 5) on the 3rd grade English Language Arts assessment reached 65 percent, an increase from 54 percent the previous year. 

Early Learning Collaborative Act


The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 provided $3 million in the first three years to create a pre-K infrastructure for 4-year-olds. The MDE has overseen the administration of 11 Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) that serve 1,700 children annually. Results for 2015-16:


  • All 11 ELCs achieved the target score that indicates students are prepared for kindergarten.
  • 71 percent of ELC students met the target kindergarten readiness score, an increase from 59 percent in 2014-15. In other public pre-K classrooms, 69 percent of students met the readiness score, compared to 64 percent in 2014-15.
  • The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s ELCs in its 2015 State of Preschool. This puts Mississippi among only six states in the nation that meet all 10 quality standards for preschool.
  • A 2015 Mississippi State University study identified the powerful, long-term effect pre-K had on student achievement in Mississippi:
    • Mississippi children who attended public pre-K were 1.5 times more likely to be proficient in 3rd grade reading,
    • Mississippi children who were proficient readers in 3rd grade are 9 times more likely to be proficient readers in 8th grade, and
    • Mississippi children who were proficient readers in 8th grade are 3.5 times more likely to graduate on time.


ACT for 11th Graders


The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $1 million annually since 2014-15 for all 11th graders to take the ACT. The test measures college-readiness at a crucial time in high school when there is still time to provide interventions to improve achievement.


  • 11th graders earned an overall composite score of 18.3 on the ACT in 2016, an increase from 17.6 in 2015. Students made gains in each of the four categories of English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.
  • Districts offered the Southern Regional Education Board’s senior year math and literacy readiness courses to students whose scores fell between 15 and 18. These courses were developed to help close the gap for students who are on the cusp of meeting the ACT benchmark scores. 
  • The MDE provided districts training related to analyzing ACT data, evaluating course taking patterns and designing ACT preparation courses.

Professional Development


The Mississippi Legislature appropriated approximately $1 million annually for professional development related to teaching reading and the effective implementation of the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards. According to an independent report by the Southern Regional Education Board, the MDE sets strong expectations for high-quality professional learning for all educators and provides essential support for school districts. Results:


  • 4th grade reading and math scores improved on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Mississippi was the only state to show significant improvement since 2013 in both reading and math scores among 4th graders.
  • 8th grade NAEP scores for reading held constant and math increased slightly, as the nation saw a decline in both subjects.
  • Mississippi’s graduation rate reached an all-time high of 80.8 percent in 2016, up from 78.4 percent the previous year. At this rate of growth, Mississippi could surpass the national rate of 82 percent by next year. 
  • The state’s dropout rate fell to 11.8 percent from 12.8 percent the previous year, continuing the downward trend from 16.7 percent in 2011-12.  
  • Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) results showed students remained stable or improved from 2014-15 to 2015-16.


    • 31.1 percent of students scored Level 4 or higher (proficient and advanced)
    • 15 districts had greater than 45 percent of students scoring Level 4 or higher
    • 66.2 percent of students scored at Level 3 or higher (passing, proficient and advanced)

      English language arts:

    • 32.6 percent of students scored Level 4 or higher (proficient and advanced)
    • 14 districts had greater than 45 percent of students scoring Level 4 or higher
    • 66 percent of students scored at Level 3 or higher (passing, proficient and advanced) 

Mississippians now have powerful evidence that the education reforms and legislative initiatives that have been implemented throughout our state are working. We are seeing a significant return on investment. Students, teachers, school administrators, parents and state leaders have all dedicated themselves to meeting higher academic standards. This shared mission, along with the SBE’s strategic focus and the MDE’s targeted, effective work, is making a significant impact on the lives of students and the future of the state.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist