Reflecting on last school year I want to give thanks to God for guiding and protecting our school employees, our students, and our community. Even though our students, teachers, and administrators faced the beginning of some new and difficult educational demands last year and even though our community faced an ice storm and tornadoes, God brought us through these things. The 2014-2015 school year will be filled with many challenges, but again with God's help we can meet these challenges.
There are several state-mandated changes that will become official for this year. One is Common Core State Standards. These Standards for English and math must be taught at all grade levels in all public schools in Mississippi. I have provided the teachers of our district the most up-to-date textbooks and resources that incorporate these Standards so that they can more easily teach these Standards. These Standards are more rigorous and are at a greater level of complexity. Students are now expected to know English and math Standards at an earlier grade level than before so the classwork and tests our students are now given should reflect the new rigor and level of complexity of the Standards. Another change is that our students will no longer take the state test called MCT2. Students across Mississippi will now take Common Core State Tests in English and Math. The state plan is for these tests to be given online for all students in grades 3-8. Therefore, I have instructed all our principals to implement a technology plan at their schools that includes teaching computer skills for students beginning at the second grade and having students to do more of their classroom work and tests on the computer so they will be ready for the online state tests. Our high school will take the ACT test in the 11th grade and students in the 11th and 12th will be offered advanced placement courses and dual enrollment through Jones Junior College. Still, another change is that the state legislature mandated that this year all students in the third grade must pass a state literacy test or they cannot be promoted to the fourth grade. To address this need our district hired last year a Literacy Coordinator to work with all schools to make sure that students in grades K-2 who were showing deficiencies in reading received the necessary interventions to help them get to their grade level in reading. As we begin this year, we will continue to work with those students who are deficient in reading to prepare them for the State Literacy Test.
Someone has said that "learning is a total community responsibility." I believe that in order for the students of Wayne County to be successful they must have support of all the community-administrators, teachers, all other school employees, school board members, parents, government officials, churches, and all other community members. As Superintendent of Wayne County Schools I want to ask for your support and prayers for our students and schools as we begin another year.
Ben H. Graves
Superintendent of Education
Wayne County Schools5/13/2013