According to the most recent Nation’s Report Card, Mississippi and the District of Columbia showed gains in math and reading among 4th and 8th grade students, where other states were falling behind.

In an article by the Associated Press America’s eighth graders are falling behind in math and reading, while fourth graders are doing slightly better in reading as a typical trend across the nation. However, Mississippi stayed improving in both grade levels.

The nationwide test is given to a random sampling of students in the fourth and eighth grades every two years. Since the early 2000’s students have shown little improvement and reading scores have only risen a little since the tests began in 1992.



“This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in the AP story.

In Mississippi, where for the first time in the test’s history, fourth graders scored above the national average in math and at the national average in reading. The state remained behind national averages in eighth grade but continued to improve in math and held its ground in reading despite nationwide losses.

“Our achievement is at an all-time high in Mississippi,” said state Superintendent Carey Wright.

Mississippi has had a heavy focus on improving early literacy, but Wright told the AP they also devoted resources to helping teachers improve math instruction after the new standards were implemented.



“When you improve kids’ reading ability, it’s not surprising that kids’ math ability falls in line,” Wright said.

“Eighth grade is a transitional point in preparing students for success in high school, so it is critical that researchers further explore the declines we are seeing here, especially the larger, more widespread declines across states we are seeing in reading,” Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics told reporters during a conference call.

Outside of Mississippi, the scores in reading dropped in both low and high-achieving eight graders, but the declines were more significant in lower-performing students.

Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, said it’s hard to find a coherent story across different state and local school districts, but that he hoped the results would “spur us to do something a little more vigorous.”