Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The (Tupelo) Daily Journal on Mississippi test scores:
While the latest scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, (NAEP) don’t reflect well for the country’s young readers as a whole, Mississippi ranked No. 1 for score gains in reading and mathematics in 2019 on the nation’s report card.
This is the first time Mississippi fourth-graders have scored higher than the nation’s public school average in mathematics and tied the nation in reading.
Fourth grade students made the largest score gains from 2017 to 2019 in reading and mathematics while eighth grade students outpaced the nation for growth in mathematics and eighth grade reading scores held steady, according to a story by Daily Journal staff writer Blake Alsup.
Nationally, just 35% of fourth-graders are considered proficient by NAEP standards as of this year; only 34% of eighth-graders scored at the proficient level or higher for this year, down from 36% in 2017.
The state’s mathematics and reading scores are the highest they have ever been and are now on par with the national public average.
Student achievement in Mississippi has accelerated more rapidly since the Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which requires the state’s third-graders to pass a reading assessment to be promoted to the fourth grade, was implemented statewide in 2013, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.
The state’s gains coincide with its renewed commitment to early reading, including the push for teacher-preparation programs to teach the science of reading.
This accomplishment comes on the heels of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act annual report, which indicated that the large majority of third-graders passed the third-grade reading assessment after the final retest, with 85.6% meeting the highest reading standard ever required under the Act. The LBPA requires third-graders to pass a reading assessment to qualify for promotion to fourth-grade, unless the student meets one of the good cause exemptions specified in the law.
The state’s goal is to have 70% of its students be proficient on both the English and math MAAP tests by 2025.
These tests provide data on how students are performing and where the strengths and weaknesses lie.
And that data shows that Mississippi’s move to more rigorous standards and tests has been successful. And it shows that much more work remains.
The Columbus Dispatch on job skill training for children:
There was a time, not so long ago, that a child’s path from school to the workplace was pretty simple and uniform.
From kindergarten to high school graduation, students studied the same basic language, history, math and sciences classes. For high achieving students, there were higher level courses in math or science that could be taken. Students who struggled in academics as they entered high school were shuttled off to vocational training involving a few courses -- carpentry, wood-working, auto body, etc.
It was only until the student’s senior year that any thought was given to what would be next, almost as if there was no connection between what they studied in school and what would come next. Kids went to college or to a factory job, maybe.
Fortunately, that old way of thinking is evolving, as noted by previous events held in the Golden Triangle.
If a kid is told what kind of things an engineer does and what skills an engineer needs, those otherwise tedious math courses suddenly become relevant, important. A kid that wants to be a doctor understands the importance of those chemistry and science classes. A child that wants to be a teacher will approach those language and history classes with far more enthusiasm. These classes are taking them a step closer to their dream job.
Kids need to know there is a world full of different kinds of jobs and that the classes they take provide the foundation for pursuing them.
It’s for that reason it’s never too early for a child to be exposed to job skills.
As an example. When Fred Gregory was a kid, he didn’t dream of becoming NASA’s first black deputy director. He just wanted to fly helicopters.
He fulfilled that dream, then took it further, becoming a NASA astronaut, then moving up the NASA hierarchy. Gregory now travels the country presenting university scholarships for the Astronaut Scholars Foundation, as he did at Mississippi State.
It’s no stretch to say if Gregory never dreamed a child’s dream of flying a helicopter, he would never have found his way to his important role with NASA.
On Oct. 30, the FORGE Foundation, a group of Golden Triangle companies in the construction industry, held a career expo at EMCC’s Communiversity, exposing 1,000 local eighth-graders to a wide range of job possibilities in the construction skills industry, where demand for workers is high.
As the FORGE Foundation noted, only 27% of Mississippi kids will earn 2- or 4-year degrees. For the remaining 73%, the construction industry is a path to meaningful employment.
Among those thousands, there are kids for whom the expo was their first exposure to a career they never thought of or knew existed. For them, that window into the working world may well translate into the classroom.
On Oct. 30, while eighth-graders were learning about construction jobs, nine Columbus area second- and third-graders were being provided a look into the wonders of science at Mississippi University for Women in a science carnival conducted by students from Mississippi School for Math and Science.
As it was with the older students, the elementary kids got to try their hand at “science in action,” through a variety of experiments. When you take any subject off the pages of a book and make it something tangible, the wheels of imagination begin to turn.
That really is what it’s all about.
Capture a child’s imagination and the world opens to them.
That should include the work world, too.
The Vicksburg Post on shopping locally for the holidays:
With Halloween behind us, minds will be set on the upcoming holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, decorations and, of course, presents.
We encourage Warren County residents to make an early commitment to keep dollars local by shopping with Vicksburg merchants, florists, decorators, caterers and event venues.
While it may be tempting to drive out-of-town or surf the web for the best deals, shopping locally boosts our economy and offers long term benefits to all Warren County residents.
In fact, a recent study states that out of every $100 spent locally, $68 stays in Warren County. Compare that to the $43 that stays in Warren County if spent at a national chain. Local businesses pay taxes that support the roads we drive on, the police and firefighters who keep our neighborhoods safe and the schools our children attend. They are run by our neighbors and friends and more often than not support other local companies by doing business with them.
They deserve to be our first choice when it comes to looking for gifts, decorating help, catering and event spaces to hold holiday parties.
There are many opportunities to keep dollars at home. One is the Downtown Holiday Open House that takes place on Sunday, Nov. 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. Following is Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and a host of Christmas and holiday-related promotions and sales.
When you invest money in Warren County’s locally owned and operated businesses, you’re not just helping local owners — you’re also helping yourself. You’re making Vicksburg a better place to live in, with a thriving economy, and a tightly knit community. The more local businesses prosper, the more new ones will open — making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future and answering the call for more shopping options right here in Vicksburg.