News Releases 2014

Joint Statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright on Lieutenant Governor's remarks on education

by Xi Guo | Dec 01, 2014

Carey M. Wright, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Education

Office of Communications & Legislative Support
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR, Director of Communications *601-359-3706 *FAX:  601-359-3033
Jean Cook, Communications Specialist *601-359-3519


For Immediate Release: December 1, 2014 

Joint statement from State Board of Education Chairman Dr. John Kelly and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright on Lieutenant Governor’s remarks on education 

While we fully support the Lieutenant Governor’s desire to set the highest possible standards for the students of Mississippi, we have grave reservations about changing the playbook in the middle of the game. The Mississippi Board of Education adopted the state’s College- and Career-Ready Standards in 2010, which set a new baseline expectation for what students should learn and achieve. The need for higher standards was made evident by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which evaluated education standards in every state. The institute deemed Mississippi’s math standards “mediocre,” and described our English standards as among “the worst in the country.”

Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards are by far the highest academic standards we have ever had in the state or the nation. Mississippi is one of 46 states that voluntarily adopted these rigorous standards to prepare students for the demands of 21st century careers. Both Gov. Phil Bryant and former Gov. Haley Barbour endorsed the standards when they each signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that denoted the State of Mississippi as a Governing State in the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium.

Though we now have our highest academic standards in history, the standards have always been viewed as the floor, or minimum, of what to expect from our students. The state Board of Education and Department of Education will continue to aim high by always raising the bar for academic achievement. We welcome the opportunity to partner with lawmakers and stakeholders in this effort.

We understand that the term “Common Core” has become a lightning rod in some political circles, and as a result, has become attached to an unprecedented level of misinformation. For example, Oklahoma had its U.S. Department of Education flexibility waiver revoked because it did not have standards in place when it dropped the Common Core State Standards. Having rigorous standards is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Mississippi remains in charge of its education policies and must remain committed to higher standards.

The Lieutenant Governor’s proposal to drop Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards and write new ones is not as simple as it may appear. Developing new standards is a multiyear, and very expensive, process. Implementing new standards also takes several years. Just ask the thousands of educators and school leaders around the state who have invested a tremendous amount of time, work, training, and resources to implement our College- and Career-Ready Standards.  These costs include millions of dollars invested by local school districts for textbooks, curriculum materials, and professional development. Changing course after our educators have been working in good faith for years to help students reach higher standards is unfair and counterproductive.  Changing standards makes it extremely difficult for teachers to know what to teach and for students to reach learning targets.

This school year we finally have the opportunity to measure student mastery of Mississippi’s College- and Career-Ready Standards using the PARCC assessments. Hundreds of Mississippi educators had a hand in developing the test items, and more than 88,000 students in 513 schools and 140 districts field tested the PARCC assessment last spring. It is premature for the Lieutenant Governor to say the PARCC assessments may not be the best option to measure student performance. These tests are the only assessments in the marketplace that have Mississippi’s voice and input that are aligned to the state’s College- and Career-Ready Standards.

The Board of Education has already announced its intention to seek bids in early 2015 for the 2016 state tests aligned to Mississippi’s standards. There is no way to choose an assessment for standards that have yet to be developed.

The level of anxiety among teachers and administrators is palpable because they don’t know what assessment will be used from year to year. This anxiety will only grow, and morale among educators will drop, if the state moves toward changing standards yet again. 

The state Board of Education and Department of Education are only interested in making sure our children reach their highest academic potential.



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