Session S55c (Wednesday, 5:15pm, Willaman Gateway)

P873: Rural science education in the Mississippi Delta

Lacey Fitts (Delta State University, USA)

The Mississippi Delta is an impoverished region in northeastern Mississippi located between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. Seventeen counties containing 32 separate school districts make up the region. Within these districts, over seventy schools are underperforming or failing, according to the state report card. Inequality between districts is evident in the dilapidated structures and lack of resources in many delta-area schools. The state of MS spends over half of its annual budget on education, but remains among the worst in the nation in educating children. Factors contributing to school failure in the delta include extreme poverty, lack of resources, young teachers who are often overwhelmed and teaching outside of their content areas, and high dropout rates. Increased accountability and transparency have contributed to recent improvements in some districts. Demographic and academic data will be presented, with highlights from place-based education projects designed to increase student engagement. Changes to teacher preparation programs will also be discussed.


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