Mississippi experienced the greatest improvement in education, ranking 39th in the country, a substantial upturn from the previous ranking of 44 in 2019, according to new data released in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT® 2020 Data Book.
Gains in high school graduation and 4th grade literacy contributed to the rise in achievement. High school students are also more likely to graduate on time. Fourth graders not proficient in reading improved from the previous year, dropping from 73 percent to 68 percent.
“This exciting news is the direct results of leaders, teachers, parents and students working collaboratively to lift academic performance in the state and open the doors of opportunity for students. It also reinforces the success of our national performance in 4th grade math and reading,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
Linda Southward, director of the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi, notes that “for Mississippi to continue to make improvements, we must first assure that children and families have the services needed now and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
She further notes that it is “more critical than ever for each child to have computers and access to broadband internet connectivity — this is one example of how Mississippi can build upon the successes in education, along with quality early care and education and more Pre-K classrooms.” Southward stated that “Mississippians are overwhelmingly supportive of giving our children a strong start, but we know it will take everyone working together, across systems and agencies along with public-private partnerships to make positive differences for Mississippi’s children and their families.”
Mississippi ranked 49th nationally for overall child well-being, according to the new report that uses data from health, education, economic well-being and family and community. This is Mississippi’s first decrease in the overall ranking over the past three years. The report is based on the latest data available for the indicators used, all prior to 2020. This data does not reflect current conditions amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The Casey Foundation has plans to issue a special report in December focused on data from the pandemic.
The 2020 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.