For Immediate Release: March 12, 2013
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has named five school districts as recipients of Excellence for All planning grants for the implementation of innovative programs of study to begin in the 2013-2014 school year.
The Columbia, Greenwood, Madison, Lamar and Columbus school districts each will receive $50,000, funded by the Mississippi Legislature, to start programs that use a more rigorous curriculum and assessment process. Excellence for All, approved by the Mississippi Board of Education, gives students more than one path to graduation. In some cases, students can begin college-level courses to get a head start on their next level of education.
Excellence for All is based on extensive research of international student assessments and the premise that students who pass lower level exams will be ready to enroll in community college without remediation, and those who pass upper level exams will be prepared for more selective four-year institutions. Mississippi currently has two programs: Cambridge International Examinations, based on internationally benchmarked education programs, and ACT Quality Core, which fully aligns high school course standards in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and math to the Common Core State Standards.
“We commend these districts for their innovation and commitment to providing students with enhanced opportunities for success after high school. It is critically important to prepare our students for a global economy,” said Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent of education.
The Clarksdale, Corinth, and Gulfport school districts piloted the Excellence for All model in the 2011-2012 school year. Columbia, Greenwood, Madison and Lamar school districts will implement ACT Quality Core programs in grades 9-12, and Columbus will implement Cambridge International in grades 9-12.
Rigorous assessments are included in the programs. The assessment results for the Excellence for All curriculum will be used to set standards of proficiency that align with those programs of study.
“By offering more flexibility, options and relevance, students will be less likely to drop out of school and will graduate with the skills needed to be successful citizens of our state,” House said.