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Mississippi Allocates $1 Million to Help High School Students Earn Career Certification, College Credits
JACKSON, Miss – School districts will receive state funds, on a reimbursement basis, this school year to help pay for a national career readiness certification exam and advanced courses that lead to college credits. The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $1 million for the program, which will allocate funds to districts based on last year’s enrollment for grades 9-12.
Districts may use the money to pay for the ACT WorkKeys exam to earn the National Career Readiness Certificate, dual credit courses taken at in-state institutions, and Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Cambridge course and exam fees.
“This grant program will increase access to advanced and specialized courses, particularly career and technical education and AP classes, and will help students earn nationally-recognized credentials,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
Students who take additional, advanced classes beyond the minimum graduation requirements may earn an academic, distinguished academic, or career and technical education endorsement with their high school diploma. Students who earn an academic or distinguished academic diploma endorsement from a public high school will be accepted into any of the state’s public universities.
The advanced courses provide other benefits to students’ college and career goals. Mississippi public universities and community colleges now award students at least three college credits for each AP exam score of 3 or higher. Many Mississippi employers value the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate when considering job candidates.
The Mississippi State Board of Education approved the methodology today to reimburse districts, up to their allocated amount, for the exam and course fees. Districts are to first use the grant funds to offer all career and technical education (CTE) program completers from the prior school year the ACT WorkKeys exam. Then, districts may offer other students the opportunity to take ACT WorkKeys. Districts are to use the remaining funds to pay for current fiscal year expenditures associated with dual credit courses and AP, IB, and Cambridge courses and exams, based on district priority.
“The Mississippi Economic Council appreciates both the Legislature and the Mississippi Department of Education for providing an additional focus on career and technical education,” said Scott Waller, president and CEO of MEC. “This is another example of the importance of making sure our students have the tools necessary to help them make career decisions that can lead to long-term success right here in Mississippi. The ACT WorkKeys assessment is being used more and more by businesses across the state and provides our students a great pathway to a successful career.”
School districts must submit documentation of current fiscal year expenditures for the specialized courses and exams to be reimbursed for the expenditures. Charter schools, which are considered public school districts, are also eligible to receive the grant funds.
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) will begin accepting reimbursement requests from districts on November 1, 2019. All documentation of expenditures and requests for reimbursement for the 2019-20 school year must be received by June 12, 2020. The MDE will send districts detailed guidelines about the reimbursement process.
“We are pleased to partner with MEC to get our students ready for the workforce,” Wright said. “Every student deserves a high school experience that will prepare them for their chosen career path, whether that is college, postsecondary training, the military, or direct entry into the workforce.”