Mississippi ACT scores are down

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -   If you log onto www.ACT.org and read the state of Mississippi College and Career Readiness report you would be stunned by the results. Only 10 percent of the 2011 students in the state met all four benchmarks in English, reading, math and science according to the report.

"We are not happy with the flat motion of these ACT scores," said member of the State Board of Education, William Jones.

Jones says if you went through Mississippi school systems with a fine toothed comb you would see the issue is far more complex. "If you look at most states maybe half of the children in a state's educational system in other states take the ACT. In Mississippi, virtually all the children take the ACT test,"

Jones says in other states only upper level children that plan on attending college take the ACT, so compared to the Magnolia state's scores the average decreases significantly.

Another problem affecting students is the entrance scores to get into college. Jones says they're too low.

"We have tried to get them to raise it, but if a child knows that they can get into Ole Miss , USM or Alcorn with a score of 16 on the ACT they are not pushed to try hard," said Jones.

Jones added for some junior colleges there is no entrance score requirements. "Junior colleges have no minimum score. You just have to take the test," said Jones.

Jones feels it is important to note that the low scores and under-performing schools are not the student's fault.

"It's a large measure of administration, and some measure of the school boards themselves. A lot of school districts don't have a requirement that you have to have a high school education to even serve on a school board, if you were grand fathered in. We really badly need to change that. We need to make sure that people who serve on school boards at least have a undergraduate education to understand what the heck they are doing," said Jones.

According to Jones it only takes one gap to have a below-average school.

"You got to have a good school board they have got to hire superintendents. The superintendent has got to hire good principals, and principals have got to hire good teachers. If there is a weak link in that chain anywhere you've got an under performing school," said Jones.

Jones sees the scores getting better through new programs. "Mississippi has developed the MCT 2. It is in its third or second year. We are going into what is known as Common Core Standards which is: a child in the fourth grade in Mississippi will be taught exactly the same thing as a child in the fourth grad in Connecticut. Once that is implemented our children will be on a much better footing then they are now," said Jones.

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