Reforming Education in Mississippi: High School Dropout Prevention
Although Mississippi has struggled with high dropout rates, the state legislature along with the Department of Public Education has issued reforms to dig deep into the root of dropout rates, despite the socio-economic differences of students. Research shows that the environment and relationships built in schools are a huge contributing factor of keeping graduation rates high.
According to a study conducted by Philip Pearson at the University of Southern Mississippi, students learn best from interaction with each other and the teachers. Not only do students learn the class material, but also social, interpersonal skills. Pearson refers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to be instrumental in creating a productive school environment. He goes on to state,“It is likely that schools with a more positive culture will give students more opportunities to be successful and therefore the students may have a greater sense of self efficacy.” Culture within a school proves to be just as important to encouraging students to stay in school as the courses being taught. For more details, see the report here: http://aquila.usm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1063&context=dissertations
The reforms began with three main questions to guide their reform tactics. 1. What is the dropout problem nationally and in Mississippi? 2. What have the federal government and Mississippi done to address our state’s dropout problem? 3. Has the early implementation phase of Mississippi’s current dropout prevention effort provided a foundation for success?
The DPE uses several methods to calculate dropout rates which compare percentages of nonreturning students to averaging a specific age who are not enrolled in school. The annual event method which measures the percentage of students enrolled at the end of the school year but do not return reported that Mississippi’s dropout rates align with national dropout rates as they continually decrease. The Mississippi Legislature has provided programs that oversee the school’s administrators and evaluations of prevention efforts. Acording to the Mississippi Department of Education, “the graduation rate is predicted to be 85% by the 2018–2019 school year.” View the whole article, visit http://www.peer.ms.gov/Reports/reports/508.html
These reforms focus on the students as individuals, helping the ones who need more assistance in class material, and even encouraging those who have dropped out to return to school. The Office of Dropout Prevention chose seven Mississippi high schools to implement these changes by November of 2017, according to the DPE found here http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/hot-topics/jackson-public-schools-audit-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2. However, some of these schools refused to put this plan into action including Calloway High School, Forest Hill High School, Lanier High School, and Wingfield High School. Upon discovering this, the ODP scheduled followup appointments to meet with these schools to enforce this strategy.
By enforcing this plan which gears students to become more active in classes, students are more likely to graduate and be successful in the future.