Mississippi moves up in education ranks

"I think a lot of this started in 2013."

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Dr. Sam Allison is the superintendent of the Lowndes County School District.

He says Mississippi’s success in education wasn’t reached by accident.

“There were two laws that were passed, one was a Literacy Based Promotion Act which dealt with third grade. The other was the early learning collaborative, providing more money for our preschools. I think that was the start, brought a little more accountability,” said Allison. “Also, it targeted students a little bit younger. And I think that’s the hardest thing when students come in at different levels. So it helped us even the playing field a little bit there. If you look at the last 10 years, funding has improved. This year record funding from our legislature. So I think it’s a combination of all those things with just more rigor and more accountability.”

Kids Count measured the ranks from PreK test scores to high school graduation rates.

Although the state has reached great heights at its new education ranking, it lags behind at 49th place in overall child well-being.

“I think Mississippi has challenges that, that maybe other states don’t,” said Allison

Allison said there are some factors that have a much heavier impact on a child’s overall health than others.

“If you ask me what’s one thing that really affects education more than anything? It is poverty and that’s not to stereotype poverty. I’ve seen kids come from very little and reach really high heights. But many times that cycle is a cycle for a reason. So I think anything we do to provide opportunities for students and, I think we do that. I mean, it’s not about, yeah, we want every kid that we have that needs to go to college, to go to college, but we have to prepare for what’s next, whether that’s a career. But the big thing, especially in the PreK to 12th grade is we have, to show them different opportunities that they may have and lay that out for them and, and let them see that there’s hope beyond high school and it’s very attainable for all,” said Allison.

The Mississippi Student Funding Formula will bring in over $200 million in government assistance to improve public education across the state.

The bill will go into effect in the upcoming school year.

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