New Report Confirms the Devastating Nature of COVID-19 on Underserved School Districts in Mississippi

The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) released an extensive report analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on 12 public school districts in Mississippi. In the report, MCJ found that the enormous challenges of the pandemic compounded many pre-existing inequities in state funding that drastically worsened education outcomes such as test scores and other indicators for students in rural, high-need districts.

The COVID-19 Education & Impact Report investigates four key areas: Broadband Access, Learning Loss, COVID-19 Relief Funding, and Social-Emotional Impact. The analysis shows the following: 

  • Broadband Access: Having digital tools without adequate broadband access left many students unserved. 25.8% of Black rural south households are unable to subscribe to high-speed broadband. 76.2% of Black rural south households do not use broadband of at least 25Mbps. 
  • Staffing Resources: Students in Mississippi continued to lack the social-emotional support they desperately need. The student-to-counselor ratio in Mississippi is 398 to 1, almost 60% higher than the American School Counselor Association recommendation of 250 to 1. 
  • Learning Loss: The Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) reports a 46.8% proficiency in the state for math and 41.9% proficiency in English/language arts – however, districts in this study show proficiency levels at times less than half of the state average.  
  • Students with disabilities were among the hardest hit during the pandemic: Despite COVID-19 guidelines to meet Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements, many school districts provided students with disabilities and their parents with little to no support services.

These findings make clear the need for a joint effort among educators, lawmakers, parents, and communities to ensure that the students most impacted by the pandemic receive the additional educational support and resources they need to move forward.

The full report can be found here.