Higher Education Improvements

For almost two years, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright has been trying to right the ship for K-12 education in Mississippi. She says before she came on board, standards around the state weren’t challenging students, but now that’s changed and she’s ready to take it to the next level.
School has been back in session across the Coast for a few weeks and since that first bell, state education officials have been trying to prepare high school students for college.
Education leaders say a big part of getting to that next level is the American College Testing Assessment or ACT. Dr. Wright says the state’s average score of a 19 last year is its highest in 20 years, but the state still has quite the hill to climb. “You look and realize the last administration of the ACT, there were only 11 percent of just public students who were considered college ready in all four courses but even when combine that with private, it only goes up to 13 percent.”
This causes parents to annually spend millions on classes that won’t count toward their child’s degree. Chair of Mississippi Board of Education Dr. John R. Kelly said, “Mississippi parents spent $35 million with freshmen at colleges all over this state taking remedial courses.”
While the state superintendent says it’s their goal to make sure Mississippi high school students are prepared to enter college, that preparation begins way before high school and the $6 million the state is putting into early childhood education isn’t going to cut it.
“Right now, we only have $6 million that has been dedicated to pre-k in the state. And that’s only covering 66 public preschools. If you look around at other states, other states have invested heavily in early childhood and they’re seeing the results,” said Dr. Wright.
As these officials fight for money, they tell News 25 that parents play a large role as well. “Let’s start in the home, but by the time that kid is 5-years-old, that kid needs to be in a preschool program,” said Dr. Kelly.

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