TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Education took center stage in Tupelo Tuesday night. The focus: helping students in Mississippi raise the bar and compete on a global level.
That's what brought Plantersville parent Arkabrenna Marion to the BancorpSouth Arena.
"Having an education is a vital element that [my children] need to succeed in life. My goal is to make sure that they receive the education that they need," Marion said.
Parents and teachers say they came together to learn more about what's called Common Core State Standards, introduced in the Magnolia State two years ago. Testing with the new stricter standards begins in 2014 and educators see Tuesday night's event as a proactive approach to the process.
"It will be a challenge. But I think we can [do it]," East Union Attendance Center Principal Sara Johnson said. "It just reiterated to me that if we set the expectations higher, they will be successful."
To see hundreds come out in the name of better education for Mississippi students is something one state education leader calls inspiring.
"It's really about the entire community coming together to think about what they want their future to look like in terms of educating our children, and I think that has huge implications not just for northeast Mississippi, but also for the state," Interim State Superintendent of Education Lynn House said.
That's part of the reason Tuesday night's keynote speaker took a chance on Tupelo and the area, because he says they're on the right track.
"[Mississippi] went from having low standards to probably [being in] the upper-third in the country right now in terms of standards," Dr. Bill Daggett said. "A lot of people say, 'Well a lot of kids are failing the test.' Yeah, because we made the tests harder."
Daggett, who serves as director of the International Center for Educational Leadership, said Mississippi will have to continue implementing those Common Core State Standards over the next five years to really see a difference, but many parents agree the change is worth the extra effort.
The CREATE Foundation's Toyota Education Enhancement Endowment Fund sponsored the event.