What’s ahead for Mississippi P-12 education in 2015?
By Matthew Lynch
In mid-December, the Mississippi Board of Education met to outline the P-12 educational goals for the state moving forward. The short version goes like this: Every child in Mississippi should have access to a state-funded preschool program. Every student must test proficiently in reading and math, and every student must graduate from high school and be college-ready.
Of course, these goals are impossible to achieve — in any state, let alone in one that has some of the lowest achievement rankings in the entire country. Students in Mississippi struggle with learning issues that stem within and outside their classrooms, making it difficult to reach the national averages and impossible to surpass them. Would I like to see a world where EVERY student in Mississippi attends free preschool, tests proficiently, graduates high school and goes on to college? Of course. Is that a pipe dream? At least right now, yes.
I think that the spirit of these all-inclusive goals are on the right track though. Previous language surrounding these areas gave percentages for achievement and resources that rose in increments over time. While that might be a more “realistic” approach, it was negative in nature.
Aiming to have just 60 percent of students proficient in reading, or just 80 percent graduate from high school admits, in a way, that not every student is a priority in the state’s public school system. Making the statement that educators will strive to give every student access to the learning materials needed to be proficient, and be ready for college after high school graduation, is a much better way to build morale among teachers, administrators, parents and students alike. I’m interested to see how this approach actually impacts the success of P-12 students in Mississippi.