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Mississippi Ranks 45th in National Education Study

By Rhonda Miller | Published 14 Jan 2012 12:35am | comments
Denise Bush is principal at Central Elementary in Gulfport.

Mississippi earned a grade of C-minus on Education Week’s Quality Counts report. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more on the state’s gap between high education standards and low achievement.

A theater festival in the auditorium at Central Elementary in Gulfport is the easy part of getting students to enjoy school.  But Principal Denise Bush says the joy of learning has to start earlier if Mississippi is going to meet rigorous testing standards now in place.

"The state of Mississippi is one of the very few states who has not made kindergarten mandatory. If students had a Pre-K program to attend, followed up by kindergarten, I think their foundation would be a whole lot stronger, and I think we would do better as a state overall," says Bush.

The state earned an “A” for high standards, but an “F” in achievement in kindergarten-through-12th grade in Education Week’s Quality Counts report.

State Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith said the rigorous new standards put schools on the path to achievement.

"Once our students go through a cycle, if you will, with this more challenging curricula, you will start seeing the other categories Quality Counts ranked Mississippi and other states in, improving," Smith says."We have tremendous amount of improvement to do, but we are making progress and headed in the right direction.

That progress could be a lifeline for the state. Cynthia Walker has been a teacher and principal for nearly 30 years and knows the value of education.

"When some of our industry leaders are talking to our economic development drivers to say we’re thinking of Mississippi, but we’re worried about the education quality for our employees’ children and our future workforce, we begin to say but this district is the best in Mississippi or whatever, they remind us, yeah, but that’s the top of the bottom," says Walker.

While Mississippi ranks 45th in the nation in the Quality Counts report, South Dakota was at the very bottom of the list and Maryland came out on top.

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Denise Bush is principal at Central Elementary in Gulfport.


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