MDE Seeks Public Comment for Mississippi’s ESSA Plan

Elementary, Teacher

The public is invited to provide comment on Mississippi’s plan to improve outcomes for students. Called Mississippi Succeeds, the plan follows the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is the federal law that replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Improved transparency, support for underperforming schools and districts, increased accountability for results, and focused professional training for better quality teachers and school leaders are key components of Mississippi Succeeds.

The state plan, informed by citizens from across the state, is a refinement of the activities supporting the Mississippi State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan. It serves as the roadmap to higher student achievement and reinforces many of the state’s existing educational priorities by:

  • Setting high expectations for student growth and proficiency in all tested areas through educator professional development and state support
  • Focusing on educational equity through increased access and opportunities for all students to close opportunity and achievement gaps
  • Ensuring high-quality classroom instruction through professional development and meaningful feedback from educators
  • Setting the expectation that every student graduates from high school and is ready for college and career
  • Expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities for our 4-year old students
  • Using data effectively to make decisions in the best interest of students
  • Supporting and improving underperforming schools through local and state technical assistance and interventions

The plan provides clear expectations for schools and districts with the focus solidly on student growth opportunities and performance, particularly for students who are the furthest behind their peers.

“We are focused on outcomes, and this is not business as usual. School improvement is a significant part of the state’s strategic plan as reflected in the Board’s goals,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

Mississippi has made historic progress in advancing public education in the last five years. The state’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in math, reading and science have shown significant improvements. Our students have performed well on the most rigorous assessments the state has ever had under the highest standards of learning the state has ever had.

The state has invested in literacy and early childhood education, and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has provided extensive professional development to teachers. Through grants, exemplar units in English language arts and mathematics have been developed and distributed, and an expansion of support to school districts for high-quality early childhood education programs is in the works.

“This plan builds on the momentum from our recent successes. We intend to see that improvement continue by maintaining high expectations for our students so they can reach their full potential,” said Board Chair Rosemary Aultman.

Mississippi has set aggressive goals to increase academic achievement. The proposed long-range goal is for 70 percent of students to reach proficiency (at or above grade level) by 2025.  In other words, 70 percent of all students, by subgroup, would show solid academic performance and mastery of the knowledge and skills required for success in the grade or course. MDE and school districts will monitor interim benchmarks set to reach the proficiency goal.

The proposed graduation rate is 90 percent by 2025 for all students, with all subgroups showing improvement. The graduation rate for students with disabilities was projected at 70 percent by 2025, considering that the 2015-16 graduation rate for students with disabilities is 34.7 percent.

Public comment will be open for the next 30 days, and the MDE has announced the following meeting locations and dates for a presentation about the plan. All stakeholders are invited to attend. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

June 26
Woodall Advanced Technology Center
906 Sullivan Dr.

June 27
MDE Auditorium – 2nd floor, Central High School Building
359 N. West St.

June 29
Oxford Conference Center
102 Ed Perry Boulevard

For more information about ESSA and to read the Mississippi Succeeds comprehensive plan and executive summary, visit  The public is encouraged to complete an online survey following a review of the draft plan