Mississippi is making notable gains in education according to a report from a national watchdog group.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released their Kids Count 2021 Data Book recently and while the Magnolia state falls short in a few categories, it’s making great strides in others.

Mississippi held its education ranking of 39th in the country in 2021, a substantial gain from its 48th position in 2014, according to the new data.

The databook describes how children across the United States were faring before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, Mississippi ranked 50th in the nation for child well-being, which tracks economic well-being, health, family and community, and education. The state was ranked 49th the previous year.

“Mississippi students, teachers and schools achieved historic academic gains before the pandemic and have not let up on their pursuit of higher academic achievement,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright. “Education in Mississippi continues to be a bright spot among the indicators of child well-being.”

According to the data, 28 percent of children in Mississippi live in households with an income below the poverty line, which is the lowest level in the nation. The greatest long-term improvement for the state is in family and community where there was a reduction in the teen birth rate dropping from 55 per 1,000 in 2010 to 29 per 1,000 in 2019.

The group ranks education by measuring pre-K enrollment, 4th-grade reading skills, 8th-grade math proficiency and the high school graduation rate.

Pre-K enrollment in Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives has grown from 1,700 in 2014-2015 to more than 3,000 in 2020-21. The Legislature doubled funding in 2021, which will boost enrollment to 6,000. Mississippi ranks No. 1 in the nation for gains in 4th-grade reading and mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and No. 3 for gains in 8th-grade mathematics. The state’s graduation rate reached an all-time high of 87.7 percent in 2021, exceeding the most recent national rate of 85 percent.

For more information, visit aecf.org/databook.

Staff Writer

Zack Steen was first hired in 1999 as a junior in high school to work in the Daily Corinthian design department. After several years away, he returned in 2014 as staff writer. He's married to the love of his life Brandy and they have 5 wonderful fur-kids.

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