Academic standards provide a clear roadmap for learning. Teachers and students know what’s expected of them, and parents know what’s expected from their children as schools prepare them for the future.
Every 4-6 years the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) reviews academic standards that guide classroom instruction. This provides an opportunity for everyone to review the benchmarks set for student learning and make adjustments as needed.
In keeping with that periodic review process, the MDE is now seeking specific input on the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards through the Mississippi College- and Career-Ready Standards (MCCRS) Feedback Forum. I encourage business leaders, parents, policymakers, educators and students to use this forum to voice your support or concerns.
While stakeholders had the opportunity to provide feedback during the standards adoption process, the online public comment period will allow teachers, higher education representatives, parents, students and other interested parties the chance to perfect the current standards based on their experiences over the last few years. To be clear, this forum is not a referendum on the standards. Only comments tied to a specific standard will be considered.
I support the state’s standards – the highest standards the state has ever had. These standards will help us ensure that all students regardless of income or family background have equal access to a world-class education that will prepare them for success in college or direct entry into the workforce. Teachers have worked hard over the last few years to build an essential foundation for deeper learning.
The Mississippi Board of Education also continues to support the MCCRS. In fact, the standards are embedded in the Board’s 5-year strategic plan. However, the Board has stated that it wants to build upon the standards and to make any necessary modifications that would provide every student the chance for success in college and careers.
To that end, this is the purpose of the public comment period:
- To increase awareness and understanding of the MCCRS for those who have heard about the standards but are unfamiliar with what students should know and be able to do at each grade level
- To receive actionable feedback on the standards for those who want to submit comments on how to strengthen the learning guidelines
We know that we can’t go back to the way things were. Mississippi’s previous standards did not do enough to challenge students to read more, to write more, to solve problems and to work creatively. If we examine our students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), we can readily see that our students lag significantly behind peers in other states.
Of course, there are many causes for students’ persistently poor performance on NAEP, but high standards of learning are the cornerstone to building an improved educational system. Without them, our students will continue to fall further behind as other states around us make leaps in student achievement, such as Kentucky and Tennessee. That is unacceptable and a disservice to students.
The three-month review process opened June 15. Comments provided about specific standards will be evaluated by a team of Mississippi educators specializing in the specific content areas reviewed. The team will then make recommendations on any changes to the Mississippi Board of Education for its consideration in December.
A process of continuous improvement requires periodic evaluation, and public education in Mississippi can only improve if we make any necessary adjustments to the high expectations we have set for students. If we can improve upon what has taken place in the classroom over the last five years, then our students are the beneficiaries.
To participate in the Feedback Forum, visit http://mississippi.statestandards.com/.