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System Review

Volume 1, Issue 8

December 15, 2006

News from the System

State Education Leaders Visit Harvard for K-12 Preparedness Workshop

The Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian, Mississippi, recently awarded a grant to Dr. Tom Burnham, dean of the School of Education at the University of Mississippi, and his staff to develop a new strategy and process for the university to prepare K-12 school administrators.  As part of the grant, Dr. Burnham led a team of education leaders to Massachusetts for a three-day visit with faculty and graduates of Harvard University.  The visiting team was comprised of Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Thomas Meredith; Assistant Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Lynn House; State Superintendent of Education Dr. Hank Bounds; Executive to the Superintendent of Education Steve Williams; Director of Educational Programs at the Barksdale Reading Institute Dr. Richard Boyd; Senator Mike Chaney; and representatives from six of Mississippi’s eight public universities. The group heard presentations from Harvard’s faculty about their experience in training school leaders, participated in a panel discussion with Harvard graduates about their successes and setbacks as school leaders, and engaged in dialogue about applying what they have learned to more effectively train school leaders in Mississippi.  The collaborative efforts of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, K-12, state legislators, and the Hardin Foundation on this initiative demonstrate an aggressive commitment by all groups to move Mississippi forward through education.

Southern Miss Receives 10-Year Accreditation from SACS The University of Southern Mississippi has received a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).  SACS (online at www.sacscoc.org), the recognized regional accrediting body in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, requires colleges to demonstrate compliance with the Commission on Colleges’ core requirements and comprehensive standards and develop a Quality Enhancement Plan that focuses on enhancing student learning outcomes as part of the reaccreditation process.  “We celebrate and recognize the efforts of our faculty and staff who worked hard over the past year to ensure this reaffirmation of our longstanding tradition of academic distinction,” said Southern Miss President Shelby Thames. The reaffirmation process has been spearheaded by Dr. Joan Exline, assistant to the president for accreditation, planning, and articulation.  Commissioner Meredith relayed his congratulations on the reaffirmation, saying, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, I am pleased that Southern Miss has been reaffirmed by SACS. All Mississippi citizens should be assured of the University of Southern Mississippi’s commitment to higher education.” Read more, http://www.usm.edu/pr/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=335&Itemid=2 .

Commissioner Co-Authors Chronicle Article on Improving College Readiness

Commissioner Meredith co-authored an article, “A Coordinated Effort to Prepare Students for College,” which appeared in the December 15 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Co-authors include Michael Cohen, president of Achieve (an organization, led by state governors and business leaders, formed to raise academic achievement throughout the nation); Paul Lingenfelter, president of State Higher Education Executive Officers; and David Ward, president of the American Council on Education.  The article, which represents a remarkable consensus among education leaders, outlines the steps that should be taken to ensure the high-school diploma is “a true indicator of readiness for success in both college and work.”  The article argues that college and high-school leaders must work together to align standards; states must raise high-school graduation standards; statewide standards must drive not only course work but

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