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2/8/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

There is little doubt that education is one of Mississippi's most pressing problems and serves as the basis for many other problems in the state. However, it is a problem that cannot be solved by the teachers, principals and superintendents alone. In addition to training, the next generation of teachers, principals and superintendents, Mississippi Public Universities are helping to improve education in numerous ways.

Alcorn State University has partnered with the Natchez-Adams School District to provide accelerated opportunities to young people. Through the Natchez Early College Academy, Alcorn is able to offer students the opportunity to take dual-enrollment courses that students typically take as freshmen, such as English composition and college algebra. Students receive credit toward both their high school diploma and their college degree, thereby lowering the time and cost to a degree for the students.

The University of Mississippi's School of Education offers the Mississippi Teacher Corps program, an alternative route program that culminates in a master's degree for participants who commit to teaching in the state's critical needs districts. The School also offers the Principal Corps, which is a training program that helps outstanding teachers become K-12 leaders.

The Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, or METP, is a joint effort by the School of Education at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and the College of Education at Mississippi State University (MSU) and is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson. Designed to be the equivalent of an honors college for education majors, the rigorous program offers full cost of attendance scholarships to the best and brightest students around the nation. Success of this program reaches across the nation with students coming from more than 20 states with an average incoming composite ACT of 30. METP fellows commit to teaching in Mississippi for a minimum of five years. The first METP graduates entered the teaching profession this fall.

The University of Mississippi utilizes a virtual reality teaching and learning environment that supports and fosters professional practice for teacher training in a variety of settings. Practice occurs by interacting with Avatars in realistic teaching environments. Our avatar teaching lab delivers customized virtual reality experiences that create the most demanding interpersonal challenges for educators. Real humans support and operate each avatar to create life-like interactions. This technology allows the learner to take risks from which they can learn how to improve their day-to-day performance. The University of Mississippi's School of Education has adopted this technology as a critical component for their undergraduate teacher education program. Each undergraduate is required to teach multiple lessons using the avatar classroom that includes children with special needs and children whose first language is not English.

The Office of Outreach and Innovation at Mississippi University for Women continues to improve teacher quality through professional development provided by the CHAMPS project. Creating High Achievement in Mathematics and Problem Solving (CHAMPS) began more than 12 years ago on The W's campus and continues to be one of the most highly regarded professional development programs for K-8 grade mathematics teachers in the state.

Throughout the 10-month program, participants will also earn a College and Career Ready Standards instructional certificate, engage in professional learning communities and participate in follow-up events throughout the year. Each component offered by CHAMPS is grounded in empirical research that demonstrates the importance of sustained professional development and the positive correlation between teacher quality and student achievement.

Recent additions to the CHAMPS program are several program components based in technology, a focus on STEM and formative assessment and a restructuring of the Summer Institute to include more time for content instruction and teaching strategies. CHAMPS is made possible due to a Mathematics and Science Partnership grant that originates with the U.S. Department of Education and is awarded by the Mississippi Department of Education.

The Professional Learning Academy offered through The W's Office of Outreach and Innovation offers online six-week courses that allow teachers to earn continuing education credits.

Mississippi Public Universities also assist with efforts to improve Pre-K. The Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi State Department of Health Office of Child Care Licensure have partnered to create a workshop series to provide training to child care providers and continuing education credit required for licensure. The Creating Healthy Indoor Child Care Environments workshop series is one aspect of the MSU Extension Healthy Homes Initiative, part of a national program designed to share information about common housing-based health and safety risks.

Workshop topics include hazardous household products, indoor air quality, integrated pest management, lead poisoning prevention, healthy indoor environments, asthma and allergies, mold and moisture control, safety and accessibility, and home safety and accessibility.

Last year, Mississippi Public Universities graduated 2,086 education majors. Five years after graduation, 72 percent of education graduates are working in Mississippi. Over the course of their careers, they will have a tremendous impact on the children and education achievement of Mississippi.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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