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#AskExcelinEd: What does Mississippi’s 2017 NAEP score tell us about improvement?

• Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Two weeks ago, the release of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed mixed results nationally, with strong improvements in states—like Mississippi—that are embracing and faithfully implementing student-centered policies.

This week’s #AskExcelinEd brings you a look into Mississippi’s performance. Thanks to Dr. Christy Hovanetz, ExcelinEd’s Senior Policy Fellow, and Jim Hull, ExcelinEd’s Policy Impact Director, for diving into the data!

Have you heard about what’s happening in Mississippi?

The Magnolia State is emerging as a national leader in student-centered reforms and, according to the 2017 NAEP, academic improvement. Since 2011, the state has prioritized early literacy and established high expectations for all students, as evidenced in their rigorous A-F school accountability system. And this dedication is paying off.

Governor Phil Bryant noted the state’s efforts are resulting in strong student learning gains, saying, “After embracing innovative, student-centered policies, adopting comprehensive reforms and setting higher expectations for children, we have seen consistent improvement in NAEP scores for multiple years. The results of the Nation’s Report Card indicate these reforms are yielding positive results.”

So, exactly how has Mississippi improved?

Fourth-Grade NAEP Math and Reading:

  • Mississippi fourth graders rank 2nd in the nation for improvements in reading and 4th in math from 2011, the baseline year for K-3 reading policy and school accountability reforms, to 2017.
  • Even better, Mississippi low-income fourth graders rank 3rd in the nation for improvements in reading and 5th in math from 2011 to 2017.

While the state continues to lag the national average on NAEP, Mississippi fourth graders scored closer to the national average of public school students in math and reading than ever before. And since 2003, Mississippi fourth-graders have improved over a grade level in math!

Eighth-Grade NAEP Math:

  • Mississippi eighth graders ranked 9th in the nation for improvements in math from 2011 to 2017.

Even while the national average of public school students has declined in eighth-grade math since 2011, Mississippi students have made slight progress. Better still, Mississippi eighth graders have improved over a grade level in math since 2003!

Eighth-Grade NAEP Reading:

  • Mississippi eighth graders ranked 1st in the nation for improvements in reading from 2015 to 2017.

Mississippi eighth graders improved by nearly a half a grade level in reading—the largest improvement made by any state during this time.

About the author

Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. Dr. Hovanetz served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.