MDE Answers Teachers’ Frequently Asked Questions

Teacher, Middle

The Mississippi Teacher Council asked the Mississippi Department of Education questions on a variety of topics recently. The following are answers to some of the questions council members raised. We will add new questions and answers as they become available. Check back quarterly for updates.

Academic Education

Has the Social Studies Standards Committee been selected? How can I get involved?

The Social Studies Standards Committee has been selected and met to begin talks of rewriting the current framework. If social studies teachers are interested in giving the committee feedback during this process, please email and she will add them to the Review Committee.

Can we get Spanish and Vietnamese versions of the Student Success Guides for ELA and Math?

We are currently collaborating with the Office of Federal Programs and Language Lines to have the guides translated into Spanish. We are anticipating the translation completed by this fall. Funding is limited at this time to do another translation for additional guides.

Why do teachers have to fill out both an IEP and an IRP for students who qualify for both?

In accordance with Section 37-177-1, the IRP is required for all students (K-3) who, at any time, exhibit a substantial deficiency in reading, as well as students who were promoted to 4th grade with a good cause exemption. The IRP is not a part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP), in addition the IEP does not include the 7 legislatively required components.

How can a school district pilot a STEM or STEAM program?

To pilot a STEAM or STEM program, a district will first need a plan of action. The MDE will work with the district, but districts should know that the program requires teaching STEM practices through every class, not just teaching or buying a STEM curriculum for one class. The new science curriculum has an engineering practice component, which will be helpful with the STEM practices for every class to be a STEM school.

Jackie Sampsell is the science specialist and can be reached at or Dana Bullard at for more help.

How do we apply for AP training scholarships? Are they available?

AP Training Scholarships will be announced 2nd semester. Our office will be sending out more information as soon as it becomes available. Dana Bullard is the contact person for AP. She can be reached at

How can low-income students get a discount on AP exams?

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently has awarded the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) $189,781 in Advanced Placement (AP) grants as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for historically underserved students. Based on the anticipated number of tests to be taken, the grants under the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program are expected to be sufficient to pay all but $15 of the cost of each advanced placement test taken by low-income students. Each school will work with students who qualify for the assistance and want to take the AP exam.

Can we get teacher lessons on video?

We are exploring greater use of exemplary video recordings of teachers. We have engaged in initial discussions with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for Atlas.


What data should teachers track to gauge their impact on student learning and for how long should they track this data?

Teachers in the core areas should use the past two years of data, combined with data from formative data, along with grades and attendance. For teachers in the non-core areas, looking at student work demonstrations should be combined with grades and course taking patterns.  This is of particular importance for middle school students considering pathways in STEM based course and/or CTE.


Is it true that September SATP retesters cannot take the test in December? If true, why not?

U.S. History and Biology SATP2 retesters will be able to retest during the December testing window.

Where can we find a single accommodations manual that’s up to date?

The accommodations manual is available online here. The OSA is working on a revised version that will be available this fall.

Can you allow more time for English Language Learners to take state tests?

Students with an EL classification are allowed Accommodations 24 and 25 (additional time) from the MDE accommodations manual found here.

Will teachers and schools receive a report of how students performed on each standard tested?

Reports are available for MAP that provide data on how students scored at the strand level in both English Language Arts and Math. Data is not available at the standard level. Only norm-referenced test, which the MAP assessment is not a norm-referenced test, provides data at the standard level. The MDE has previously provided data at the strand level.

Ask your school or district test coordinator how to access the information you need.

Where can we get more practice test items?

Full length practice tests aligned to the blueprints will be available in pdf format later this fall.

When will the writing results be available so I can see my students’ strengths and weaknesses?

Data is available to teachers in Classroom Reports in Nextera that shows student scores on the writing portion of the ELA assessment, including how students scored in each component of the rubric.

Can you provide examples of writing that teachers can reference that show what high-quality writing and low-quality writing looks like for MAP?

There is currently an example of scored writing responses in the ELA Rubric Guide available online here. The OSA will provide additional examples this fall.


Is there a cap on the number of days a student can miss school before they are retained? Is that a local decision?

A school district cannot have an automatic failure policy for students who are chronically absent. For more information, here’s a legal opinion from the Mississippi State Attorney General’s Office.


What happened to the TES scholarship? How can we find out more information about this for potential teachers?

The Teacher Education Scholars Forgivable Loan (TES) program was created during the 2013 Legislative Session to encourage high-achieving high school graduates to pursue a career in teaching. To the extent of appropriated funds, awards amounting to $15,000 annually were to be made to students with a 3.5 GPA and 28 ACT seeking a bachelor’s degree in teacher education at a Mississippi four-year college or university.  The entire loan amount would be forgiven in its entirety for recipients who teach in a Mississippi public school for five full years following degree completion and licensure.

This scholarship is offered through the Institutions of Higher Learning. Due to budget constraints, no awards will be made to new applicants for the Teacher Education Scholars Forgivable Loan (TES) program for the 2016-17 year. Only renewal applicants will be offered additional loan funds.

More information can be found here:

Additional information:

Teacher Content Specific Listservs Available – SPREAD THE WORD!!

In an effort to keep Grades K-12 content area teachers informed about content specific initiatives, updates, and resources, the MDE, through the Office of Elementary Education and Reading and the Office of Secondary Education, has created content specific listservs for Mathematics, ELA, Social Studies, and Science.

To subscribe to each listserv, please click on the links provided:

MS Mathematics Educators Listserv 

MS ELA Educators Listserv

MS Social Studies Educators Listserv

MS Science Educators Listserv

If you have any questions regarding our content area listservs, please contact Dr. Marla Davis, Bureau Director, Office of Secondary Education, at