Carey Wright, Mississippi Superintendent of Education, speaks with students, faculty and administration at Pontotoc Middle School in 2018.

TUPELO • Mississippi ranked No. 1 in the nation for score gains in reading and mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, in 2019.

Fourth-grade students made the largest score gains from 2017 to 2019 in reading and mathematics while eighth-grade students outpaced the nation for growth in mathematics and eighth-grade reading scores held steady.

The fourth-grade reading score rose by four points and the math score rose by six points. Mississippi was the only state in the nation to have a “significant score change” in a positive direction for the fourth-grade reading test from 2017 to 2019.

This is the first time Mississippi fourth-graders have scored higher than the nation’s public school average in mathematics and tied the nation in reading.

“Because of its grade 4 gains, Mississippi’s mathematics and reading scores are the highest they have ever been and are now on par with the national public average,” said Dr. Peggy Carr, associate commissioner for assessment at the National Center for Education Statistics. “This is meaningful progress for Mississippi.”

Mississippi’s eighth-graders also performed well in 2019, ranking No. 3 for growth in mathematics and holding reading scores steady as the national average dropped.

Mississippi eighth-grade math scores are now only seven points below the national average. The score has increased by 20 points since 2000 and is on track to eclipse the national average in several years if the trend continues.

Mississippi is the only state to show significant increases in three of the four core NAEP subjects in 2019 as scores for most dropped or remained flat nationally from 2017 to 2019, according to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE.)

“Academic progress in Mississippi has been powerful and sustained, proving there is no limit to what our students can accomplish,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Mississippi’s teachers have done a phenomenal job equipping students with the knowledge and skills to succeed throughout their education.”

Student achievement in Mississippi has accelerated more rapidly since the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which requires the state’s third-graders to pass a reading assessment to be promoted to the fourth grade, was implemented statewide in 2013, according to MDE.

“Mississippi has entered a new era of public education,” said Dr. Jason Dean, chair of the Mississippi State Board of Education. “Our significant improvements in teaching and learning have made Mississippi a national leader for improving student success in education.”

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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