Former State Superintendent of Education
Dr. Carey M. Wright is the former state superintendent of education in Mississippi. One of the longest-serving state education chiefs of the 21st century, she retired in June 2022. Her tenure in Mississippi was longer and marked by more student gains than any state superintendent of education since the Education Reform Act of 1982 established the Mississippi State Board of Education.
Under Dr. Wright’s leadership, the state initiated successful education reforms that made Mississippi a national leader for improving student achievement. Mississippi’s Quality Counts grade for education improved from an F to a C-, its ranking climbed from 50th to 35th and the graduation rate rose from 75.5 percent to 88.4 percent—higher than the national average. Among students with disabilities, the graduation rate more than doubled from 23.2 percent to 59.9 percent. Mississippi fourth graders in 2013 were reading more than one full grade level behind the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). By 2019, Mississippi fourth graders scored higher than the nation’s public school average in mathematics, tied the nation in reading, and ranked No. 1 in the nation for making the largest score gains. The rapid progress of Mississippi students earned the state Quality Counts’ No. 2 ranking in the nation for improvement in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
A passionate advocate for early childhood education, Dr. Wright implemented Mississippi’s first publicly funded Early Learning Collaborative program, which earned the state recognition from the National Institute for Early Education Research as one of only six states in the nation that meet all 10 quality standards for early childhood education. The program grew from 11 collaboratives serving 1,700 children in 2014 to 30 collaboratives that serve 6,000 children in 2022-23.
Dr. Wright spearheaded initiatives that increased literacy skills in pre-K through third grade, pushed student achievement on the NAEP to improve at a faster rate than most other states, and nearly doubled the Advancement Placement participation and success rate. Pre-pandemic, Mississippi students achieved significant annual gains in English language arts and mathematics proficiency. Though the pandemic disrupted learning throughout the country, Mississippi’s assessment scores did not fall as much as scores in other states.
In addition, Dr. Wright implemented the Mississippi Connects program, which gave every student in the state a computer device to learn at school or at home; the Mississippi Teacher Residency, which provides scholarships and mentors to aspiring teachers; and the Performance-Based Licensure program, which helps Mississippi teachers with provisional licenses become fully licensed.
Prior to her leadership in Mississippi, Dr. Wright was chief academic officer for District of Columbia Public Schools as well as deputy chief for the Office of Teaching and Learning. She also served as associate superintendent for the Office of Special Education and Student Services for Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and was a teacher, principal, and director of special education and student services in Howard County Public Schools, also in Maryland. Dr. Wright began her career as a teacher in Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools.
A former member of the Chiefs for Change Board of Directors, Dr. Wright was actively involved with numerous national and state boards and organizations that advance the field of education. Notably, the U.S. Secretary of Education appointed her in 2019 to the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, the Nation’s Report Card. In 2022, Dr. Wright earned the Mississippi Top 50 Most Influential Leaders Award.