The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is raising concerns about the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) report on career and technical education (CTE) because it contains inaccurate information and it holds MDE responsible for work conducted by the National Strategic Planning and Research Center (nSPARC) at Mississippi State University.

The OSA report cites MDE for not accurately measuring the impact that CTE has on students; however, nSPARC and the Lifetracks data system it oversees conducts those measurements.

“The MDE has no jurisdiction over the actions and/or guidelines of nSPARC and Lifetracks,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Any findings regarding nSPARC and Lifetracks should not be included in a report about MDE’s work.”

The audit also erroneously reported conflicts between MDE and Lifetracks data. There is no conflict because two different groups of students were included in the data OSA reviewed.

“Mississippi’s CTE programs meet the standards and reporting requirements of the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The U.S. Department of Education recently approved our latest Perkins plan, which proves we have implemented the law with fidelity,” Wright said. “The MDE stands by the quality of our state’s CTE programs, which have adapted to the changing demands of the state’s labor market.”

CTE enrollment in Mississippi has increased by 17% from 2016 to 2019. High school students take courses in 39 distinct occupational areas, which help them develop marketable job skills and earn national industry certifications.

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Release from the Mississippi Department of Education.