A "Thank You" to Our Supporters
On behalf of the Public Education Forum of Mississippi, thank you to our sponsors for your contribution to the Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master Programs. Your support allows us to continue to sustain and expand both programs across the state.
We also want to salute and acknowledge our educators, students, and parents for working tirelessly during the pandemic. This year has been very difficult and challenging for everyone in so many ways. However, despite a global pandemic, closures, shutdowns, and adapting to new learning methods, teachers remain committed to serving the school community.   

As this year comes to a close, we say “THANK YOU” for persevering and wish you a great year ahead.   
Vickie Powell 
Senior Vice President of Foundations
Mississippi Economic Council 
SBE Approves ACT WorkKeys as Measure of Career Readiness
The Mississippi State Board of Education voted recently to open public comment on the addition of the ACT WorkKeys assessment, in conjunction with a recognized career pathway or industry certification, to the accountability measure evaluating how schools and districts prepare students for college and the workforce.

ACT WorkKeys, a national assessment that measures foundational skills required for success in the workplace, will be included in the college and career readiness indicator in the state’s accountability system that assigns letter grades to schools and districts. Previously, student performance at the national benchmarks in math and reading or English on the ACT was the sole indicator of college and career readiness. The additional career preparation measure recognizes students who score at the Silver performance level on ACT WorkKeys and earn an industry certification in a technical field or complete a career pathway in high school.

“We have always said we would periodically evaluate the accountability system for improvements. We believe that by adding WorkKeys with industry certification or pathway, we better prepare students who want to directly enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to succeed and to earn a livable wage,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
Pascagoula-Gautier School District
Accelerates Career Pathways During Pandemic
The Pascagoula-Gautier School District is innovating to meet the needs of Mississippi by expanding pathways for its traditional and non-traditional students. Among the state-of-the-art programs are Cyber Security, Sports Medicine and Unmanned Aerial Systems with a number of students receiving their FAA certification to fly drones. 

The district has formed dynamic partnerships with local business and industry for internship opportunities. Multiple students have received Certified Nursing Assistant credentials through Singing River Health System, which is expanding this program to include phlebotomy, surgical tech, respiratory therapy tech, physical therapy tech, medical coding and radiology tech.

Through the district’s partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding, students are training to go directly into the workforce through the Ingalls Shipbuilder Academy. Ingalls utilizes the district’s College and Career Technical Center for its “HiredUp” program at night for underemployed and unemployed adults, with 130 adults to date graduating and going to work.  

PGSD students are training in the McDonalds Management Program through the Descher Organization. Singing River Federal Credit Union has opened a branch at Pascagoula High managed by business students.
The district is partnering with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art through generous sponsors to provide a student-led economic and community development revitalization project in Pascagoula. These programs are developing skills students will be able to take with them into the workforce and throughout life.
Dr. Wayne Rodolfich

School District

"Give Every Child a Chance"
Rankin County Supports Testing to Provide Students With Best Opportunities to Succeed
Rankin County School District is strongly invested in providing all students access to not only the highest quality education but access to every possible resource available to prepare for high stakes testing such as the ACT, PSAT, SAT, and Workkeys.

We provide each ninth-grader in the district with a PreACT in October for a baseline. Each student can then access ACT Academy or Method Test Prep, provided by the district for additional practice.

Additionally, each tenth grader is given the ACT in the spring so that the student potentially has access to dual credit classes beginning in the fall of the student’s junior year. Each sophomore is also encouraged to take the national ACT, SAT, and PSAT. In preparation for these events, each student is provided a boot camp led by Montgomery Hinton. Additional resources for preparation include the online resources Method Test Prep and Algebra Nation.
Montgomery Hinton
College and Career Ready
Preparatory Coordinator
Rankin County School District 
For our eleventh graders in the district, each junior is given the ACT in the spring; however, due to COVID interfering with the spring testing in 2020, this year the juniors will be given school day testing twice. One test was administered in October; the second experience will occur in February. Again, each student has access to boot camps led by Montgomery Hinton, and most students are in an ACT prep class either in the sophomore or junior year. Mastery Prep resources are used for physical texts; additionally, each student is encouraged to take the PSAT for national merit qualification in the fall.
Our goal is to provide our students with at least 4-6 school day testing opportunities; we feel this is very important as it allows all students, especially our first-generation and underserved population, direct access to testing without the burden of transportation and other potential life interferences as well as a growing comfort level with the testing experience as a whole.

The delivery of our instruction has been challenged this year as we navigate an ever-changing schedule where students have been either virtual only, hybrid, or face-to-face. Through all of it, the students at RCSD have been provided a curriculum that was tailored to the circumstance and individual needs of the students. Having printed text from Mastery Prep has allowed us to easily place materials in front of students in a safe manner. Mastery Prep has also provided a digital platform for us as well. Students who were either hybrid or virtual had a platform that was adaptable to their needs through Method Test Prep, which provides ACT and SAT prep in an online environment. 
Our results have been outstanding. While the national and state averages on the ACT have been in decline, the students in the Rankin County School District have continued to increase in average and access to higher education. We know these scores provide opportunities to attain education at more affordable rates. Also, we have seen an increase in national merit numbers over the past three years.

Two years ago, in addition to our ACT and PSAT opportunities for students, we began a vigorous program of in-house Workkeys testing. We had almost 300 students attain credentials. Hinds Community College paid for the testing, and we tracked each individual student providing boot camps and guidance on how to earn the next level on his or her NCRC. We were very excited about this because we know that the end game of all education is to provide a high paying job for each of our students. We know this provides those students the opportunities to directly enter the workforce better positioned to help their employers while providing themselves opportunities for higher pay. Students who choose a higher education route, we believe, will better position themselves for future employment by attaining an NCRC certification. The number of gold and platinum NCRCs earned fluctuated between 60 and 70%, which is about 140% above the state average. Additionally, using information recently released by the ACT, less than 1 in 20 Mississippians score all 7s on the test. One of our schools had over 18 students attain that level alone. However, due to a lack of funding, ACT Workkeys testing is not a current viable option.

Career Academies and Career and Technical Education programs in the Rankin County School District (RCSD) are focused on integrating traditional learning with career and technical skills, along with leadership development. Since 2015, RCSD has grown from 13 academies to 28 academies across eight high schools with over 1700 students. In addition, for the 20-21 school year, 285 students in the school district attend the Pearl Rankin Career and Technical Education Center to participate in career and technical education programs. Students in career academy programs are part of a supportive cohort of students with a personalized learning experience. 

Career-specific curriculums are aligned to current business and industry standards and engage students in learning relevant to student interest. There are opportunities in the junior and senior years to integrate college preparatory courses and dual credit courses. Upon graduation, students can transition to a post-secondary institution to continue their education or into a career field. Many of the RCSD career academy programs have work-based learning opportunities during the senior year where students can gain on the job training.

Rankin County School District's drive is to provide students with the best opportunity to become globally productive citizens uniquely positioned to make a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them.
Scholar Spotlight: Raheem Vaughn - Forest Hill
Raheem Vaughn is an 11th grade Forest Hill student and is also a 2nd Year CTE student enrolled in the Teacher Academy Program at the Career Development Center, where Dr. Eric Cook serves as Principal. Raheem’s professional interests include educating people about the wonderful joys of life and serving his community. 

Raheem serves as President of the Teacher Academy’s student organization, Educators Rising, and has been honored for his achievements in that organization. His Teacher Academy instructor, Dr. Sophia Chapman states that Raheem loves a challenge and is determined to become a Ph.D. in African American History one day. 

Over the course of the pandemic, Raheem founded the church, Ministry of Glory and Power, where he organized several programs to help feed the homeless and inspire less fortunate people to live life to the fullest. 

Raheem’s CTE Counselor, Mrs. Tabatha Kenney states that Raheem has a heart for service and is destined to make a great impact on his community, the state of Mississippi and beyond.
Scholar Spotlight: Zhakia Richardson - Jackson Public Schools
“Zhakia is an outstanding student! She exercises hard work and diligent practices. Not only is she an 'A' student, but she also has perfect attendance. Even during these trying and testing times of COVID-19, you can always count on her to be there. Sometimes it is just the two of us in class, but she does not complain. She stays on task with her work and continues to listen as though we have a crowded classroom. Now that's what I call dedication! So when I saw the opportunity to honor this bright young lady, who is making exceptional strides, despite the challenges of these unforeseen times, I had to acknowledge her. I also want her to know that hard work pays off. So today Miss Zhakia Richardson, it is Your Time to Shine!”

Ms. Dorothy Beard
Career Development Center
Cosmetology Instructor 
Jackson Public Schools 
Counselor Spotlight: Tabatha F. Kenney - Jackson Public Schools
Tabatha F. Kenney has been a professional school counselor for over 25 years with 20 of those years working at the Jackson Public Schools Career Development Center where she serves as Lead Counselor. Mrs. Kenney holds a B.A. degree and M.S. degree from Jackson State University and an Ed.S. degree from Delta State University. Mrs. Kenney is a National Board-Certified Counselor, and a National Board-Certified School Counselor and is currently completing the requirements for her LPC license. In 2016 Mrs. Kenney was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of the Top 50 Leading Women in Business. 
Tabatha F. Kenney Ed.S., NCC, NCSC, P-LPC
Lead Counselor
Jackson Public Schools
Career Development Center
“I absolutely enjoy counseling and working in Career & Technical Education," said Kenney. “I believe that a CTE education is the greatest pathway to almost every career and it is the vehicle to success for students all over our state and nation. The blessing is that I have the unique opportunity to assist students find their career passion and achieve career success.”

Working at the Career Development Center allows me to grow and learn from all those that I work with daily from the dynamic team of faculty, staff, and administrators, our inspirational students, and our very supportive business & industry partners. 

During this unusual time that we find ourselves in, Mrs. Kenney states that she has had the privilege of presenting virtual Social & Emotional Learning activities to students that have proven to be both eye-opening and thought-provoking for the students and the instructors as well. “I have found that the students are really in tune with what is going on in the world and they are looking for opportunities to express themselves in a positive manner.”

Mrs. Kenney states that working with students and helping them through some of life’s difficult circumstances is all she has ever wanted to do with her life. “I have the BEST Career of anyone that I know and I am extremely blessed and honored to work in a field that I love.” 
What is the Public Education Forum (PEF)?

The Public Education Forum is a non-profit, non-partisan education policy research group created by a broad cross-section of business, education and political leaders in Mississippi. Founded in 1989, the Forum is committed to being the leading independent force for public education in the state.

The mission of the Public Education Forum is "Committed to Excellence in Mississippi's Public Schools."  
Get program updates, education information, and resources on the STAR and Public Education Forum Facebook Pages!
Benefits for Students of Mississippi Scholars and 
Mississippi Scholars Tech Master Programs 
  1. Medallion for each program
  2. Certificate for each program
  3. Preference given in the hiring process for Mississippi Scholars Tech Master (Ingalls Shipbuilding, Sanderson Farms, United Furniture)
  4. Designation on high school transcript and high school diploma for each program
  5. Give back through community service for each program

The ultimate goal is not only to produce a more tech-savvy young workforce but also to foster well-rounded, civic-minded individuals who are job or college ready. MEC encourages communities to partner with their local businesses to offer college scholarships and incentives for Tech Master graduates.
Thank You for Supporting Mississippi Scholars
and Mississippi Scholars Tech Master! 

The Mississippi Scholars program started in 2003 in two counties and two pilot school districts. In 2004, the program recognized 24 graduates with the designation. In 2014, the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program was created to recognize students in Career Technical Education (CTE) in seven pilot counties. 

Combined, both programs have grown and recognized approximately 62,573 high school graduates with the designations compared to 56,000 in 2019. All students are recognized with a medallion, certificate, and seals for the high school diploma and transcript for completing the Mississippi Scholars and/or Tech Master Course of Study at no cost to the schools or districts.

Below is an estimated seven-year summary to compare the growth of both programs.  

Mississippi Scholars Graduates Seven-Year Summary:

  • 2014 - 4,237
  • 2015 - 4,325
  • 2016 - 4,380
  • 2017 - 5,122
  • 2018 - 5,717
  • 2019 - 4,843 
  • 2020 - 4,520  

Mississippi Scholars Tech Master Graduates Seven-Year Summary:

  • 2014 - 285
  • 2015 - 784
  • 2016 - 1,269
  • 2017 - 1,132
  • 2018 - 1,709
  • 2019 - 1,718
  • 2020 - 2,053
Medallion that is given to
Mississippi Scholars Graduates.
Medallion that is given to
Mississippi Scholars Tech Master Graduates.
It pays to get students workforce ready! Here's how: With the new "Success is a Cycle, Are YOU In?" program from Mississippi Scholars, Mississippi Scholars Tech Master, and Get on the Grid! The powerpoint is available at mississippischolars.ms and on YouTube.
Learn more about Mississippi's most in-demand careers at  getonthegridms.com.
Get started today!

For more information on how to get involved with Mississippi Scholars or Tech Master, contact Vickie Powell, Senior Vice President of Foundations.
Public Education Forum of Mississippi
Mississippi Scholars/Mississippi Scholars Tech Master
248 E. Capitol Street, Suite 940 - Jackson, Mississippi 39201
P.O. Box 23276 - Jackson, Mississippi 39225-3276
Phone: 601-969-0022 - 1-800-748-7626
Fax: 601-353-0247 - 1-888-717-2809
Click Here for PEF Website