Mississippi Dropout Prevention Summit

Summit Location: Jackson, MS

Mississippi Summit Theme

Highlights:

  • In February of 2008 2,000 leaders representing every community, county and school district in the state joined nonprofit and business leaders for the Destination Graduation Summit.
  • This effort was followed with a major statewide awareness campaign (with $1.7M in support from State Farm) called “Get on the Bus” that promoted dropout prevention and keeping students in school.
  • This initiative included PSAs, website, outdoor advertising and the two state summits. The state has now set goals to reduce the overall dropout rate to 13% by 2012-2013 school year and to have all 3rd graders reading at grade level by 2020.

Progress Since Summit:

  • As mandated by state statute, superintendents in every district are developing dropout prevention plans that organize around elements such as data collection, student supports, school policy and community engagement.
  • The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) celebrated their 60th anniversary and integrated their annual lunch with the Mississippi Education Best Practices Summit. The message was clear that business valued education and saw it as a workforce investment issue. 
  • A one-year follow-up dropout prevention summit was held recently which was the first time all the districts had come back together since the first summit in February 2008. Over 375 people attended the best practices summit with attendance including administrators, truancy officers and local dropout prevention coordinators.
  • Mississippi legislators passed the ‘Children First Act’ that addresses leadership and accountability in districts that are not performing well. Under the bill, Mississippi will be able to remove superintendents and school board members, and take over failing school districts more easily. It will give the state school board the power to request that the governor declare a “state of emergency” for schools they rate as “failing” for two or more consecutive years. Those districts will be placed into state conservatorship.
  • The Mississippi Center for Education Innovation has now been created (funded via Kellogg Foundation) to pursue the state goals and encourage public/private support for innovation in education.
  • Grabbing pre-existing momentum, the entire state has now mobilized around dropout prevention and keeping kids ‘on the bus’. Every district is required to craft a dropout prevention plan and the business/policy community is supportive. Early data is encouraging with 600 additional students graduating this year than last year.