Mississippi Readiness Policies

Overview

Mississippi
High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Mississippi aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  

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Mississippi
College and Career Readiness Definitions

In 2016, The Mississippi State Board of Education adopted revised Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The legislature requires all 11th graders take the ACT. The state pays for one administration. Students who choose to retake the ACT do so at their own expense. Transitional courses (SREB Math and Literacy Readiness) are offered to seniors who have an ACT sub-score between 15-18, but are not required.

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Mississippi
College and Career Planning in K-12

The Mississippi Department of Education created the Pathways to Success initiative to train counselors, teachers, and school administrators in delivering a career-based advisement system. The state requires schools to develop individual career and academic plans (iCAPs) for students beginning in eighth grade. Students explore 16 career clusters, choose graduation pathways and begin exploring postsecondary options.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Mississippi Community College Board administer a statewide, federally funded GEAR UP program to help low-income students prepare for college. It provides enrichment, recruitment and financial aid; family and community engagement, tutoring and mentoring; professional development for teachers, counselors and principals; and technology resources. More information is available at GearUpMS.org.

Mississippi also offers online resources at RiseUpMS.com, a statewide Web portal designed to help students and their families plan for college.

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Mississippi
High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Districts must require students to complete at least 21 units before issuing a high school diploma. Students may choose the traditional academic or career diploma paths. The latter requires students to complete four units in one of 16 career clusters. The Early Exit Exam Option is a diploma path available to students who demonstrate readiness for college and careers by completing an abbreviated curriculum and showing mastery on multiple assessments (the ACT, ACT QualityCore end-of-course exams, and Mississippi Institution of Higher Learning-approved tests).

Subject

Career Pathway

Traditional Pathway

Early Exit Exam Option*

English

4 Credits: 

English I, II and two other credits

4 Credits: 

English I, II and two other credits

4 Credits: 

English I, II and two other credits

Math

3 Credits:

Algebra I and two other credits

3 Credits:

Algebra I and two other credits

3 Credits:

Algebra I and two other credits

Science

3 Credits:

Biology and two other credits

4 Credits:

Biology and three other credits

2 Credits:

Biology and one other credit

Social Studies

3 Credits:

U.S. History

1/2 U.S. Government

1/2 Mississippi Studies

One other credit

4 Credits:

U.S. History

World History

1/2 Geography

1/2 Economics

1/2 U.S. Government

1/2 Mississippi Studies

One other credit

2 1/2 Credits:

U.S. History

World History

1/2 U.S. Government

1/2 Mississippi Studies OR approved equivalent courses

Health/ Physical Education

1/2 Credit: 

Comprehensive Health or Physical Education

1/2 Credit:

Comprehensive Health

1 Credit:

1/2 Comprehensive Health

1/2 Physical Education

Technology

1 Credit:

Integrated Technology

1 Credit:

Business and Technology

1 Credit:

Business and Technology

Career and Technical Education Electives

4 Credits from Student’s Program of Study

Not required

Not required

Art

Not required

1 Credit

1 Credit: Fine Art

Electives 2 1/2 Credits 5 Credits 5 Credits: should align with postsecondary admissions standards
Total Credits 21 24 17.5
*The Mississippi Early Exit Diploma is for students who are ready to do college level work without remediation. To qualify students must meet the credit requirements and the college and career qualification scores in all core content areas on a series of End of Course (EOC) exams and/or the required benchmarks.

Each student must have an individualized career and academic plan (iCAP) that is personalized to meet their educational and career goals. Students who choose the Career Pathway Option must complete 4 career and technical education units and the 2.5 elective units that are specified in their iCAP.

Assessment Requirements

Mississippi administers the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) and Subject Area Testing Program, Second Edition (SATP2) to high school students. MAAP comprises Algebra I and English II exams while SATP2 comprises Biology I and U.S. History assessments. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, SATP2 scores will constitute 25 percent of a student’s final grade. A passing score in each of the four subject-area tests is required. Students may also use a combination score option to meet graduation requirements if they do not pass any one of the EOCs. All students complete the ACT in grade 11.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Seniors who have failed an end-of-course SATP test may use the test score with their overall course grade to apply for graduation. Students will qualify for this option if their course grade and test score, when evaluated together, demonstrate adequate mastery of course content. State Board Policy 3804 allows students to satisfy assessment requirements through alternative means, such as qualifying ACT sub-scores, earned college credit, or an earned industry certification.

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Mississippi
Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Mississippi students may either dually enroll in high school and college, earning only postsecondary credit in college courses, or may earn dual credit by being concurrently enrolled. Any course that is required for subject area testing as a requirement of graduation is not eligible for dual credit. Students may qualify for either the Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit programs based on the following:

  • Minimum GPA
  • Written approval/recommendation from counselor or principal
  • Meet entrance requirements set by postsecondary institution
  • Other: Have completed 14 core high school units or have a minimum ACT composite score of 30 (or SAT equivalent)

Admission and placement testing requirements, as well as tuition and fees, vary locally and by institution. Tuition and costs for university-level courses must be paid from grants, foundation, or other private sources.

 Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

Advanced Placement offerings vary by school, and are required to be taught by College Board-certified AP teachers. Students who score at a 3, 4 or 5 level on an Advanced Placement exam may be able to earn college credit for the corresponding high school course. Credit transfer policies vary by institution. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the Maryland Department of Education will provide funding directly to local school districts to help cover testing fees for low-income students.

Career and Technical Education

The Pathways to Success initiative has developed career pathway documents that align with the 16 fields contained in the National Clusters Framework. Each one-page fact sheet contains course recommendations for core and elective credits, including career-technical courses for students pursuing the career pathway diploma. CTE courses are eligible for dual credit is the CTE instructor meets the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges requirements. Districts must offer a career track diploma option in which students complete 21 credits comprising an academic core of courses and at least 4 credits in dual enrollment-dual credit CTE courses.

Early College High Schools

Mississippi currently has four early college high schools, its first opening in 2015. These early colleges are housed on college campuses and offer students the opportunity to take earn college credit and receive an associate degree or career credential while pursuing high school diplomas. Students attending early colleges do not pay college tuition or text book costs.

Early High School Graduation

The Mississippi Early Exit Diploma is available to students who are college ready, will not need remediation courses, have met the 17.5 specific credit minimum, and have met all core content requirements, including benchmarks on EOC and ACT or IHL exams. Students who meet the requirements of the Mississippi Early Exit Diploma may continue to take Advanced Placement or dual credit courses, enroll full-time in a career-technical education program, or graduate high school early and enroll in a local community college.

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Mississippi
Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The Board of Trustees for the Institutions of Higher Learning set the minimum admissions requirements for public universities. All applicants must complete the Required College-Preparatory Curriculum to receive full admission. The Board also has created a more rigorous, recommended preparatory curriculum. Students may substitute Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses for specific subject-area requirements.

The Board authorizes institutions to admit students completing the CPC with a minimum 2.0 high school GPA and an ACT Composite of 18 or higher. Institutions may enroll students with ACT Composite scores as low as 16 if they have a higher GPA and/or class rank. 

Universities may admit students who do not meet full admissions requirements through enrollment in the Summer Development Program. Successful completion of the program entitles students to continue enrollment in the fall semester. Institutions also may enroll students in Yearlong Academic Support Programs. Some credit earned through the yearlong program does not count toward graduation.

Institute of Higher Learning College-Preparatory Curriculum

Subject

 Required Units

Recommended Units

Course Requirements

English

4

4

Must require substantial communication skills

Math

3

4

Algebra I or equivalent

Other units higher than Algebra I

Science

3

4

Biology I or its equivalent

Other units higher than Biology I

Social Studies

3

4

American & World History (1 unit each)

American Government (1/2 unit)

Economics or Geography (1/2 unit)

Recommended units include Introduction to World Geography and Mississippi Studies (or a state/local government course in any other state)

Arts

1

1

Units in visual and performing arts

Advanced Electives

2

2

Option 1: Foreign Language I and Foreign Language II

Option 2: Foreign Language I and Advanced World Geography

Option 3: Any combination of English, Mathematics higher than Algebra I, Science higher than Biology I, Advanced Elective category, any AP course, any IB course

Technology 

.5

.5

A course that emphasizes the use of technology as a productivity tool

Total 16.5 19.5  
*Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses can be substituted for each requirement. A course may not be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Academic and technical students must meet one of the following Mississippi Community College Board admissions criteria to enroll at an institution:

  • An earned high school diploma or approved equivalency certificate;
  • The completion of at least one unit less than the minimum acceptable high school units as prescribed by law, i.e., if the state requires 21 high school units to graduate, a student can be admitted into a community/junior college with 20 high school units;
  • Mississippi Occupational Diploma or state-approved Career Certificate; or
  • Official transcript from accredited postsecondary institution.

Two-year institutions may enroll students in career programs based upon qualifying scores on a federal assessment that demonstrates their ability to benefit from postsecondary instruction.

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Mississippi
Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

Students who do not meet the requirements for unconditional admission may be admitted but must participate in an on-campus placement process at the institution.

Students who score below 16 on the ACT English, reading, or math subtests must take intermediate courses. However, students are exempt from the intermediate course requirement if they completed an SREB Math Ready and/or Literacy Ready courses with a grade of 80 or higher.

Students who are admitted without sufficient skills in English, reading or math are required to enroll in the Summer Development Program. Successful completion of the summer program entitles students to continue their enrollment at the university.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Institutions have the right to set their own placement thresholds for entry into college-level English and math courses. However, the Mississippi Community College Board convenes a group of 14 of the 15 community colleges’ chief academic officers who have agreed to use an ACT English score of 17 or higher for placement in English Composition and an ACT math score of 19 or higher for placement in College Algebra.

Entering freshmen enrolled at a public postsecondary institution who have an ACT math, reading or English subtest score of 16 or less are required to take Intermediate Algebra or Intermediate English during their first semester of college. Institutions can also require that students who score between 17 and 19 take the intermediate course(s).

However, students are exempt from the intermediate course requirement if they completed an SREB Math Ready and/or Literacy Ready courses with a grade of 80 or higher. Students taking two or more intermediate courses must enroll in the year-long Academic Support Program or equivalent courses.

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Mississippi
State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The state funds three merit-based grant programs: the Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant, Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant and the Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students (HELP).  Students may qualify for the Resident Tuition Assistance Grant with a minimum high school grade-point average of 2.5 and ACT Composite score of 15 or higher (810 SAT). The maximum award is $500 for freshmen and sophomores and $1,000 for juniors and seniors.

National Merit Finalist and Semifinalists may qualify for the Eminent Scholars Grant with a minimum high school GPA of 3.5 and ACT Composite score of 29 or higher (1350 SAT). The maximum award is $2,500 per academic year.

Students may qualify for the HELP Grant if they demonstrate financial need, graduate with a minimum high school GPA of 2.5, and produce a minimum ACT Composite score of 20 (1020 SAT). The standard award covers tuition and fees at public institutions.

All three grant programs require the completion of 15 credits per semester and the maintenance of initial GPA requirements.

Mississippi Senate Bill 2956 (2017) allows students to receive only one state grant starting in fall 2017. Also, the act requires the review of continuing eligibility every semester, instead of at the end of each academic year.

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Mississippi
Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

Mississippi Lifetracks releases annual state- level data and trends statewide and by subgroup on the following information:

  • Postsecondary enrollment rates
  • Number and rate of graduates taking remedial courses
  • Graduates attaining 24 credit hours within two years of enrollment
  • Freshman retention rates
  • Graduation rates of first-time, full-time college-enrolled public high school graduates