Many Mississippi high schools seniors aren't prepared for work or college after graduation according to state and national education officials. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how some say that's a drain on the state's economic potential.

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Officials: Mississippi High School Seniors Lagging

By Daniel Cherry | Published 10 Apr 2012 07:31pm | comments

Many Mississippi high schools seniors aren't prepared for work or college after graduation according to state and national education officials. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how some say that's a drain on the state's economic potential.

International Student Assessment evaluations show American students perform at just average levels compared to other developed countries. Mississippi students are even worse. Dr. Tom Burnham is the State Superintendent of Education.

"We're deluding ourselves by talking about how well students are performing nationally when jobs are leaving this country, when we no longer even make a representative showing in the international benchmarking that's being done..."

Business leaders say that hampers attempts to bring industry to the state. Former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove chairs the 12th Grade Preparedness Commission for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. He says Mississippi and the rest of the nation have to raise achievement levels for high school seniors.

"We want to make sure that our young people here can keep the jobs here, and we believe that if we're more productive, smarter, better trained, then that's going to be a huge benefit for employers looking to locate jobs."

One achievement indicator is students' preparedness for college. Dr. Eric Clark, Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board, says 43 percent of students enrolling in community college require remedial classes.

"We spend about $25 million a year teaching remedial or developmental work for folks that are not ready to do college work. Now that's money that the state has to put out, but then also the students have to invest a lot of money to get ready to do college work."

Officials say one of the first steps to improvement is raising expectations for Mississippi students.

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