MDE Leaders and Mississippi Educator Win National Readiness Awards

Mississippi Department of Education leaders Dr. Marla Davis (left) and Jean Massey (right) with SREB senior vice president Dr. Gene Bottoms

Two Mississippi Department of Education leaders and one Mississippi teacher were among four educators recently honored by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) for their work to help under-prepared students succeed in high school and postsecondary studies. The winners were honored at SREB’s Readiness Courses Institute, held in July in Nashville.

Dr. Marla Davis, MDE  director of secondary curriculum and instruction

Dr. Marla Davis, director of secondary curriculum and instruction, and Jean Massey, executive director of secondary education, received the SREB President’s Trailblazer Award for their work related to the adoption, promotion, training and implementation of the SREB Readiness courses. The courses are designed for high school seniors whose junior-year ACT scores are just below the college-ready benchmark.

SREB also honored Mary Zluticky of Horn Lake High School as the Outstanding Literacy Ready Teacher. Zluticky says that with the Literacy Ready program, her students work harder, while at the same time her expectations of her students are higher. In her class of 12 students, seven improved their English scores, while two-thirds improved both their reading, science and composite scores on the ACT.

Davis and Massey were recognized for ensuring students in Mississippi have access to the Readiness Courses — and making sure policies at the state level promote a comprehensive readiness program.

In spring 2016, SREB worked with schools in Mississippi to provide students in Literacy Ready and Math Ready courses the opportunity to retake the ACT exam. SREB has collected the data and analyzed students’ ACT scores before and after taking SREB Readiness courses. In regard to students in Literacy Ready, over 50 percent of the students tested increased their ACT scores in English and science, as well as their overall ACT score, with the typical gain being 3 or more points in English and science, and 2 or more points on the ACT composite score. Students in Math Ready often experience gains in their abilities to understand and apply mathematical concepts, gaining skills they will need in both math and science in college level course work. Approximately 60 percent of student increased their ACT math and science scores, as well as their overall ACT score, with the typical gain being 2 or more points in math, 3 or more points in science, and 2 or more points on the ACT composite score.

Enrollment in SREB Readiness courses has grown since the courses were first offered:

School Year




SREB Literacy/ELA Ready Student Enrollment:




SREB Math Ready Student Enrollment:




Districts Offering SREB Literacy/ELA Ready:





Districts Offering SREB Math Ready:





Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, the SREB Readiness courses will be renamed to Essentials for College Literacy and Essentials for College Math. Starting in 2018-19, all Mississippi high schools will be required to offer the classes to eligible students.