Recently, Rachel was interviewed by Jennifer Schiess from Bellwether Education Partners. The interview was published on the Bellwether Education Partners’ blog Ahead of the Heard. During the interview, Rachel talked about the recent increase in NAEP scores and what they mean for Mississippi. She also discussed what Mississippi First has been focused on over the last decade, the future of public pre-K-12 education in Mississippi, and the importance of Mississippi in our national conversation. We encourage you to read the interview in full.
I want to end on a note that is both hopeful and a call to action: we all do this work, day in and day out, in good weather and bad, for kids. There is no question that kids are far better off in Mississippi today than they’ve ever been: we’ve doubled the percentage of kids reaching a NAEP benchmark of proficient or advanced in 4th-grade reading and quadrupled the rate in fourth-grade math. In the eighth grade, we’ve grown reading proficiency by 30% and math proficiency by 150%. That’s eye-popping. This success is true for every demographic, a huge victory.
But despite the fact that the gains are across the board, our achievement gaps for Black kids and low-income kids are unchanged. On the one hand, this means that in an era of major improvement, we haven’t simply ridden a wave of big boosts from high-income white kids. On the other hand, it means that for every child to succeed, we need to ensure that Black kids and low-income kids get what they need to move even faster. I think we can do it. We’d love for you to help.