We believe many factors, both in-school and out-of-school, may contribute to low achievement and achievement gaps in Mississippi. However, we also believe—based on research and experience—that schools have tremendous power to substantially narrow achievement gaps and raise low achievement, regardless of their causes. We believe that in order for Mississippi’s outcomes to improve, schools must take primary responsibility for leading this hard work.
State and federal legislation creates an environment of possibility for making the kinds of deep changes in our schools that are required. Mississippi First believes the time for action is now and that our organization is poised to make an impact on the direction of school turnaround in Mississippi for the next decade.
Teacher and Leader Quality Policy
Inevitably, conversations about school turnaround return to the need for a great teacher in every classroom and a great leader for every school and every district. As a result, we are following all aspects of human capital policy in Mississippi and relevant national research.
1003g School Improvement Grant
From 2010-2012, Mississippi First was proud to collaborate with the Office of School Recovery, the office within the Mississippi Department of Education tasked with oversight of the 1003g School Improvement Grant (SIG), a federal grant program for schools with an unprecedented level of funding and accountability.
After the re-design of the 1003g funding stream in 2010, Mississippi First assisted MDE in developing the state’s application for SIG dollars as well as designing Mississippi’s application and rubric for local school districts wishing to compete for these dollars. In 2011, Mississippi First helped OSR dramatically improve the grant process for local school districts, including improving the application, rubric, training, and grant review. In 2012, Mississippi First supported OSR in implementation of the policy aspects of this important work.