MDE concerned about State Auditor’s report on career and technical education

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is concerned about a recent report by the Office of the State Auditor on career and technical education (CTE). MDE leaders claim the report contains inaccurate information, and it holds MDE responsible for work conducted by the National Strategic Planning and Research Center (nSPARC) at Mississippi State University.

According to MDE, the report cites the department for not accurately measuring the impact that CTE has on students. MDE leaders said nSPARC and the Lifetracks data system it oversees conducts those measurements.

“The MDE has no jurisdiction over the actions and/or guidelines of nSPARC and Lifetracks,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Any findings regarding nSPARC and Lifetracks should not be included in a report about MDE’s work.”

MDE also claims the audit also erroneously reported conflicts between MDE and Lifetracks data. Leaders said there is no conflict because two different groups of students were included in the data OSA reviewed.

“Mississippi’s CTE programs meet the standards and reporting requirements of the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The U.S. Department of Education recently approved our latest Perkins plan, which proves we have implemented the law with fidelity,” Wright said. “The MDE stands by the quality of our state’s CTE programs, which have adapted to the changing demands of the state’s labor market.”

According to MDE, CTE enrollment in Mississippi has increased by 17% from 2016 to 2019. High school students take courses in 39 distinct occupational areas.

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