Mississippi Enacts Forward-thinking Policies that Result in Better Scores for K-12 Students While Michigan Lags Behind

Michigan’s K-12 education system is sliding backward and moving in a direction that will hold our students back. Our children deserve data-based interventions that will help them reach their fullest potential – and we don’t have to look very far to find them. 

Mississippi schools have successfully prioritized accountability and it’s resulting in stronger performance and more equitable outcomes. In 2013, the state adopted a test-based promotion policy as part of a greater statewide initiative aimed at improving early literacy, and it did just that. 

Test-based promotion systems ultimately help students. Young people struggling to read shouldn’t be forced to move at the pace of their peers – they should be given the tools they need for reading comprehension, even if that means repeating a year. All students deserve to move forward with confidence, not insecurity. 

Mississippi is ensuring students have the knowledge they need before being pushed to the next grade while Gov. Whitmer and the Democrat-controlled Legislature recently removed the requirement that students be able to read by the third grade. Our students need to be able to read to learn. Michigan’s misguided decision will only hurt students in the future while young people in Mississippi continue to thrive. 

A study conducted by Boston University’s Wheelock Educational Policy Center evaluated the impacts of Mississippi’s test-based promotion policy, specifically third-grade retention, on test scores in the sixth grade. Key findings from the study reflected higher ELA scores in the sixth grade and positive effects for Black and Hispanic/Latinx students. And compared to other states with test-based promotion policies, the magnitude of these effects was found to be significantly greater. 

It’s clear that Mississippi legislators have moved forward with policies that push their students forward as well – and as taxpayers, we’re funding our students’ education, so it’s our responsibility to stay informed and involved in the decisions our state legislators are making that determine the future of our students. 

Ultimately, the success of our students determines the success of our state, because they’re our future leaders. Building our state’s potential starts with investing in our students.

Whether you care for the sake of your children, for the sake of our success as a state, or for the sake of simply knowing that your taxpayer dollars are achieving a return on their investment, please stay informed and involved in the direction of our K-12 education system.

Contact your local legislator and let them know that your taxpayer dollars deserve to be invested in policies that promise prosperity for Michigan’s children.  

By West Michigan Policy Forum