The Mississippi Department of Education will issue the annual district and school ratings in June. The ratings are normally posted in the beginning of September each year but were delayed for nine months when the department had to move to a different location due to a fire at an adjacent building last year. MDE told JJ this morning that the 2015-2016 ratings will probably be issued in October and thus closer to the original schedule. The third grade "reading gate" test results will be released when the Board of Education meets on May 12. Meanwhile, MDE is rolling out a pilot computer science program for students that will include coding programs in elementary schools. MDE issued the following press release last week:
CLINTON, Miss. – Next school year, the Mississippi Department of Education will roll out the Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) pilot program in 34 school districts across the state in an effort to expand the knowledge base of students and open the doors to career opportunities.
More than 150 teachers will begin training this summer. Participating districts have committed to a robust schedule of professional development, data gathering, and adequate technology and infrastructure to qualify for the CS4MS pilot. During the pilot’s first year, 68 high school teachers from 50 high schools and 167 K-5 teachers from 106 elementary schools will teach computer science content to their students.
For elementary-age students, the computer science curriculum will include coding, digital literacy, keyboarding, and robotics. High school students will enroll in a comprehensive course called Exploring Computer Science (ECS).
During future years of the CS4MS pilot program, MDE plans to add 6th-8th grade courses, as well as an expanded offering of high school courses. Ultimately, the goal of CS4MS is to have a continuous K-12 computer science pipeline in place for all Mississippi public schools by the year 2024.
Jean Massey, associate state superintendent, said computers and software impact every profession, including medicine, energy, entertainment, transportation and agriculture. She said every student should have the opportunity to learn vital skills for a productive career. “Computer science is now a part of the necessary foundational knowledge for students, and we need to include it in our schools,” Massey said.
The CS4MS pilot program was created to address an urgent economic need. According to Code.org, there are currently 607,708 open computing jobs nationwide, but America only graduated 42,969 computer science students into the workforce last year. The CS4MS pilot program aims to address this computer science knowledge gap so that Mississippi’s students can compete for jobs alongside candidates from any other state or country.
MDE Editor’s Note: The chart that shows the breakdown of participating districts includes the abbreviation “ECS,” the Exploring Computer Science course. The course, supported and promoted by the National Science Foundation, was developed at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Oregon.
Kingfish note: JJ contacted Madison, Rankin, and Jackson Public School districts to find out which schools will participate in this program. Rankin and Madison responded and the schools are listed below.
Rankin County School District
Madison County School District
East Flora Elementary
Madison Avenue Upper Elementary.