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Local school districts will be allowed to amend graduation requirements

Graduating high school seniors will not need to take state required end of course assessments in order to graduate and third graders will not need to take the end of year reading assessments in order to move on to the fourth grade.

The Mississippi State Board of Education suspended several statewide policies due to school closures at a Board meeting Thursday. The policy suspensions apply only to the 2019-2020 school year.

Students are not required to take the end of course Algebra I, English II, Biology and U.S. History tests. Individual school boards are allowed to change their graduation and grading requirements for the 2019 to 2020 school year, as long as the requirements meet the state’s minimum requirements.

School districts will retain their 2019-2020 school year accountability rating and schools in targeted improvement programs for the 2019 to 2020 school year will continue to be in those programs for the 2020 to 2021 school year, according to the MDE announcement. Schools will not be penalized for continuing to be in the programs.

Districts are being given additional time to submit financial audits.

Pearl River

The Pearl River Central School District does have graduation requirements that require more credit hours than the state minimum of 24, said Superintendent Alan Lumpkin. Instructional leadership will meet to determine what amendments should be made to the graduation policy and the District’s Board of Trustees will have to approve those amendments.

Lumpkin said the District is expecting an announcement from Governor Tate Reeves on Thursday about whether schools will reopen in April as scheduled or will instead stay closed for the remainder of the school year. That announcement will start the process for determining how the District will amend its promotion and grading policies, said Lumpkin.

Since Pearl River Community College has taken its courses online, all dual credit students should be able to complete their dual credit courses online, said Lumpkin.

Poplarville

The Poplarville School District already had a graduation policy in place that did not require students to earn more credits to graduate than the state policy, so it will not have to amend its graduation policy, said Superintendent Konya Miller.

The District is also waiting to see if school will be back in session by April 17 before it makes any amendments to grading or promotion policies. District administrators have discussed how credits might be awarded if schools do not come back into session before the end of the school year, said Miller.

“Our biggest thing is we want to be fair to all, so it’s not something we’re going to make a quick decision over,” she said.

The District has approximately 100 students in dual credit courses. Some are enrolled in online classes through PRCC, others attend in-person PRCC classes and others are enrolled in classes taught by Poplarville teachers who are allowed to teach dual enrollment through PRCC. The three different situations are being handled on an individual basis, but the District is making sure students are able to finish dual credit classes and receive credit for them, said Miller.

Picayune School District Superintendent Dean Shaw did not respond to numerous requests for comment by press time Monday.