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Mississippi high school graduation rate at record 83 percent

State officials said Thursday that a record 83 percent of Mississippi seniors graduated on time from high school in 2016-2017, even as some lawmakers demand an end to subject tests that affect whether students can graduate.

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 10:47 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — State officials said Thursday that a record 83 percent of Mississippi seniors graduated on time from high school in 2016-2017, even as some lawmakers demand an end to subject tests that affect whether students can graduate.
State Superintendent Carey Wright said the higher rate is just one measure showing Mississippi schools are improving.
"Are we where we want to be nationally? No," said Wright. "Are the trend lines headed in the right direction? Absolutely."
The nationwide graduation rate is 84 percent, according to the most recent data.
Mississippi Department of Education officials said graduation rates rose for all groups of students, with African Americans at 79.3 percent and children from lower income families at 79.9 percent. The graduation rate for children with disabilities, a dismal 28 percent in 2015, has risen to 36 percent.
About 20 percent of students now graduate without passing end-of-course exams in English II, algebra I, biology and United States history, according to previous figures released by the department, which could be contributing to higher graduation rates.
Passing all four tests was required until 2014, in an effort to make sure students were learning the basics no matter where they attend school. But superintendents and lawmakers pressured the state to ditch them. To block lawmakers from killing the tests entirely, the state Board of Education voted in 2014 to allow students to graduate if they could show alternate measures of proficiency. They include scores of 17 or better on parts of the ACT college test, grades of C or better in a college course the student took while in high school, or certain scores on military entrance or career technical exams, combined with a career certification.
At the same time those changes were made, Mississippi's graduation began improving, rising from 74.5 percent of students in the Class of 2014 earning a diploma over four years to 83 percent now.
Right now, students can also pass if they fail a subject-area test but had high class grades, or get high enough scores on the other three tests. Beginning next year, the subject area test will count for 25 percent of the student's grade in the applicable course. Students whose regular grades are average or better will be able to fail the tests and still pass courses. However, some low-performing students who get bad scores on the tests could still be blocked from graduating.
Rep. Tom Miles, a Forest Democrat, inserted an amendment in House Bill 1592 on Tuesday saying "a student who fails to achieve a passing score on an end-of-course test may not be prohibited from graduating from high school" if they finish all the required courses with passing grades. The amendment could get stripped out by the Senate.
Wright on Thursday said the state needs to keep the tests, as Miles' amendment notes, to meet federal testing requirements. She said the tests also need to carry weight because the state uses the scores as part of grading high schools and school districts.
"I'm hearing from superintendents that they're fearful that children are not going to take these exams seriously and it's going to negatively impact their accountability scores," Wright said.
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An earlier version of this story has been corrected to change the years to '2016-2017' instead of '2017-2018' in the first sentence and summary.
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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy . Read his work at https://www.apnews.com/search/Jeff_Amy .

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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