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The Mississippi Board of Education honored Hinds County School District and Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District as AP Honor Roll Districts at their Thursday board meeting in Clinton. Hinds County School District and Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District are the only two districts to achieve this distinction in the state.

The College Board, a nonprofit organization that focuses on higher education, designs AP, or Advanced Placement, courses to give high school students access to college curricula.

Students who pass the AP examination that corresponds with their course may achieve course credit at participating colleges and universities. Starkville High School boasts 65 percent of students achieving the passing score of 3 or higher on AP examinations, which is 4 percent higher than the national average and 28 percent higher than the state average. Hinds County School District saw its number of AP courses and students enrolled in AP courses and passing AP examinations grow by more than 50 percent in 2015.

Terry High School sophomore and AP English student Alea Jones, who spoke of her experiences at the Board of Education meeting Thursday, says she enjoys being in an AP class. She cites her mother as influencing her to take AP English, even though math is Jones’ favorite subject.

“She told me I should take AP classes because of what you can gain from it,” Jones said, saying that she gained “more social skills, because we do so many group activities.”

The state board of education also adopted small changes to the state’s academic standards, set to take effect in August, when the academic year begins for Mississippi public schools, the Associated Press reported Jan. 21.

The changes include requirements such as third-grade students learning cursive, and first-grade students learning to count money and read calendars.

State Superintendent Carey Wright called the process “tweaking” a review she ordered of guidelines in summer 2015.

“Our children are finally being held to high, rigorous standards, and they’re perfectly capable of achieving those standards,” Wright told the Associated Press.

Sierra Mannie is an education reporting fellow for the Jackson Free Press and the Hechinger Report. Email her at sierra@jacksonfreepress.com.

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Sierra Mannie is a freelance writer. She was previously an education reporting fellow for the Hechinger Report and the Jackson Free Press. She is a 2016 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a...

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