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Report gives Mississippi historic ranking on education

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(The Center Square) – A new report gave Mississippi its best education ranking, but the state continues to struggle in other areas regarding child welfare.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book ranked the state 30th in education, 49th in overall child well-being, and last in economic well-being, health and family and community categories.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement praising the state’s historic ranking.

“This is another history-making moment for Mississippi,” Reeves said. “We have more work to do, but the fact that we’re 30th in the entire nation for education proves how much momentum we have in the classroom.

“Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to provide students with the tools they need to lead fulfilling lives and secure high-paying careers in our state. Congratulations to Mississippi’s parents, teachers, and students for once again making history.”

The report uses statewide data to compile its rankings and states from the Southeast didn’t fare well in the overall rankings, which are calculated using the other categories.

Overall, only New Mexico was worse than Mississippi, with the other bottom five states being Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma.

The top five states overall were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, Utah, Vermont and Minnesota.

The economic rankings had Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia and Arkansas in the bottom five. North Dakota was in the lead, followed by New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah and Nebraska.

In education, Georgia was 31st, Tennessee 32nd, Kentucky 33rd and Alabama 34th. The worst five states were New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alaska and Nevada.

The top state for education was Massachusetts, trailed by New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida.

In the bottom five for health ahead of Mississippi were Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and South Carolina. The best states in this measure were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington and Vermont.

Just ahead of Mississippi in the bottom five for the family and community category were New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Top states were led by Utah, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho and Maine.

Nationally, the report authors found the COVID-19 pandemic hit proficiency hard in both math and reading.

Only 26% of eighth graders nationally were at or above proficient in math in 2022, worse than 2019 (33%).

Less than a third of fourth-grade students (32%) reached or were better than proficient in reading, 2 percentage points lower than right before the pandemic.

The report also found that 30% of students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double than before the pandemic.

Forty percent of students were also found to endured an adverse experience, such as an economic hardship or having their parents divorce, separate or one parent go to prison.

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