Mississippi graduation rates are at an all-time high

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 7:03 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You hear a lot of negative news about Mississippi landing on the bottom of national lists. But the state’s high school graduation rates are bucking the trend, and they are better than ever.

The numbers alone are something to celebrate for the magnolia state. The statewide graduation rate has stayed on an upward track increasing from 74.5% in 2014 to 88.4% in the 2020-21 school year.

So, we wanted to get a better idea of what’s on the horizon for those grads. Numbers show more high school graduates hasn’t translated to more students enrolled at the state’s colleges.

University enrollment overall has taken small dips in recent years. The same goes for community colleges.

“On the career and technical education side, those enrollment figures have held steady at about 20,000 per year,” said Kell Smith, interim executive director at the Mississippi College Board.

It tracks how the state is placing a renewed emphasis on workforce training. It was a key point in the Mississippi Economic Council’s most recent report.

“Key concerns we heard throughout our tour. One, placing equal value on all career pathways,” noted MEC President and CEO Scott Waller.

This week, the report released by MEC notes the need to do away with the stigma surrounding students who choose not to go to a four-year college. And there are options that may only include one to two years of training.

“Welding, allied health, nursing, manufacturing, commercial truck driving,” listed Smith.

The Community College Board says the skills training available is tailor-made for the industries looking for employees.

“They are good, stable jobs, they’re high paying job benefits, they’re careers, you know,” said Smith. “People can work in those types of positions, those fields as long as they are willing to and able. You know, unfortunately, with some of those jobs, there is a stigmatism to people that don’t go to a traditional college, that there is the stigma that maybe they’re not smart enough, maybe they’re just you know, aren’t driven, and nothing could be farther from the truth.”

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