There are over 490,000 students enrolled in preK-12 public education in Mississippi.

In the fall of 2011, 52% of Mississippi’s first-time, full-time community college students entered unprepared for college-level courses.

22,000 Mississippi community college students needed remedial courses in 2011.

53% of Mississippi students taking the ACT college entrance test met the English college-readiness benchmark, compared to 67% nationally.

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.

Read Our Policy Position on School Turnaround


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.


School Turnaround Blog Posts

MSF’s Position on HB 504

March 24, 2014 by MacKenzie Stroh
Mississippi First releases Position Paper on HB 504 JACKSON, MS—On March 24, 2014, Mississippi First released an official position paper on House Bill 504.  The paper provides background on teacher pay in Mississippi, details both the House and Senate plans for teacher pay raises, and...

MSF launches Choose Excellence

November 8, 2013 by MSF Staff
Today, Mississippi First launched Choose Excellence, a campaign dedicated to supporting the Common Core State Standards in Mississippi. Choose Excellence is part of CommonCoreMS, a new Mississippi First initiative which is dedicated to providing resources and information about implementing Common Core State Standards in Mississippi schools....

MSF Weighs in on Graduation Rate Controversy

November 7, 2012 by MSF Staff
Executive Director Rachel Canter has been in a spate of news stories about the State Board of Education’s 2012 decision to remove graduation rates from state accountability rankings this year.

For Ed Wonks: New Study on the Characteristics of High Performing Schools

February 8, 2012 by MSF Staff
One of the most essential questions education research needs to answer is what makes some schools more effective than others, when controlling for student characteristics. Research tells us that inputs like money, class size (for most students), and even teacher credentials (like certification, years of...