With one of the highest drop out rates in the country, Mississippi lawmakers and educators are working together to find ways to target those at risk students and get them back on track to graduation.
A task force was created in this year’s state legislature to find some answers. But so far there’s more questions being raised.
This is the sixth meeting of the at-risk student task force. They’re tackling issues such as educating dyslexic students, mentoring programs and lowering the drop out rate. But with limited dollars finding solutions can be difficult.
“When you look at the research we clearly need additional dollars to attack this issue,” said Bounds.
So it’s a matter of focusing the funding in the areas the state needs it the most, but there are still holes to fill.
“We were reporting a five percent dropout rate, now we know it’s a 40 percent drop out rate so it’s very clear there’s not just a few, there’s a lot of kids falling through the cracks,” said committee chairman, Representative Cecil Brown.
The big question then is, how does Mississippi keep the students in school?
The key to helping those at risk students if sending the teacher to teach them. Right now, Mississippi is short 2500 teachers, and Doctor Bounds says that is the first piece to the puzzle to better education our students.
Task force chairman, Representative Cecil Brown hopes that process starts with the next legislative session.
“It’s gonna take a while to do that and the state department’s got some plans and we’ll consider those here in the legislative session,” said Brown.
But State Superintendent Hank Bounds says the plans begin and end with hiring quality teachers.
“It’s an enormous problem, it’s a recruitment issue, it’s a retention issue. We’ve got to think how we bring teachers in from outside of Mississippi and possible outside the United States,” said Bounds.
Doctor Bounds says the goals of the State Department of Education are two fold. They include lowering the drop out rate by 50% in the next five to seven years. And reach the national average specified by the National Association of Primary Education in that same time frame.