NAEP 2019: Mississippi improvement more impressive under closer examination

Matthew Ladner:

While last week’s NAEP news was glum nationwide, Mississippi students performed relatively well. You have to dig into the details to see just how well.

First, a bit of backstory.

Mississippi is one of the nation’s poorest states and has the largest African-American student population in the country. The state has ranked at or near the bottom on NAEP scores for many years. Over the past decade, policymakers have adopted several K-12 policies familiar to Floridians: A-F letter grades for schools, a strong emphasis on early literacy, a charter school law and an education savings account program for students with disabilities.

The state’s choice sector went from non-existent to nascent in recent years, although it’s not yet at a scale where it can play more than a complimentary role to the public education system. Yet based on this year’s NAEP, as seen in this crosstab of student race/ethnicity on fourth-grade reading, something seems to have gone very right.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin continues to address its long term, disastrous reading results by granting thousands of mulligans to elementary reading teachers.