Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education Credit: Rogelio V. Solis, AP

For the second year in a row, Mississippi made some of the largest gains in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the nation’s report card on public schools.

Despite the recent progress, overall the state still remains near the bottom of national rankings.

Combining science, reading and math results, Mississippi is tied for second in the nation for significant gains. However, the state still remains in the bottom tier for each tested subject and grade. The state also has a significant achievement gap between white and minority students.

“Closing achievement gaps is a major priority nationally and in Mississippi,” said Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer for the Mississippi Department of Education. “All students are capable of high achievement in reading, math and science.”

Students showed significant increases in 4th and 8th grade science on the 2015 NAEP. The test measures students’ skill levels in several areas.

This year, Mississippi ranked fourth in the nation for growth in science in both grades since 2009. Fourth graders’ score rose 7 points since 2009, the last time they were tested, while 8th graders’ rose 3 points since 2011. Nationwide, both 4th and 8th graders saw a 4-point increase in science from 2009, while 12th graders’ scores remained flat.

“Our students’ growth in science is consistent with their achievements in NAEP reading and math,” State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said.

Last year, Mississippi was the only state in the nation to see increases in reading and math scores for 4th graders on NAEP. Fourth graders grew 5 points in reading and 3 points in mathematics from the previous testing period in 2013.

The tests were administered to a statewide sample of students in 4th, 8th and 12th grades in 2015.


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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.