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More Mississippi Students Consider College, Few Ready

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 26 Aug 2011 12:14pm | comments
Photo by Gregory Bull, AP

ACT scores are out and Mississippi's high school seniors are testing below the rest of the nation.  MPB's Education Reporter, Annie Gilbertson explians that while the latest scores show not everyone is prepared for college level work, the number of students that are willing to give it the old college try is way up.

ACT reports that nearly all Mississippi seniors take the ACT, which means nearly everyone of them is at least considering college seriously enough to schedule the high school achievement test, figure out how to pay for it and show up. But it takes more than scheduling to showing up to do well on the ACT, or to do well in college for that matter.

Take 10th-grader Kimberly Gilmore.  Gilmore says it's not just doing well on the ACT that keeps her studying . It's the end goal: simply being a smarter person.

Gilmore: “Pushing me keeps me focused. It keeps me motivated, knowing what’s ahead.  Yeah, I miss hanging out, but I’m more focused on my work. Not only scoring high on the test, but knowing what I know.”

Gilmore wants to improve her score from a 20 to a 30 out of 36 the next time around. Statistically, few Mississippi students reach that college-ready number.  The state's average ACT score is18.7.

Gilmore is only a sophomore, so she has ample time to get the algebra and vocabulary practice she needs. Like the most of Mississippi's students, she was pushed to take the ACT early and go to college.

Gagne: “Now some may not go on, and some may not do well.  But are they taking the test? Do they have access to the test? Are they aware they can take the test? Do they believe they have the potential to go on?”

Jeff Gagne from the Director of Education Policy at the Southern Regional Education Board, explains Mississippi is doing better at encouraging kids to take this first step than our southern peers such as Louisiana and Alabama.

Gagne: And that’s what’s really critical because now the world opens up.  Because if they are thinking about it…wow!  Now the world opens up.  And now it’s about getting them to do better, take the next step.”

Basically, getting students to take the test and dream big, no problem, but having all of those same students ready to meet the challenge, now that's another story.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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Photo by Gregory Bull, AP


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