Canton High is one of 22 Mississippi schools chosen to implement a test prep pilot program to juniors preparing for the state-mandated ACT exam administered during the spring of 2020.

The online classes, which will start two weeks before the scheduled test day on Feb. 8, are designed to help 2,884 Mississippi high school juniors improve their composite science and reading sub-score averages.

In May, Jumpstart Test Prep — the company administering the program — announced the results from 15 Mississippi high schools that completed the first state-sponsored math review for nearly 1,700 juniors last year. Of those 1,700, nearly half of the students with prior attempts had an average math score improvement of 2.24 points.

The results were strong enough that the organization moved to expand the program for 2020.

High schools across the state were allowed a two-week application period which concluded Aug. 16.

Schools representing over 13,000 juniors applied. Canton, which has 187 juniors and reported an average ACT score of 15.9 (out of a possible 36) in 2019, was chosen randomly.

The program is based on a system developed by 40-year Mississippi teaching veteran and STAR teacher Hall of Fame inductee Dot McClendon.

It includes presentations by a group of young and diverse instructors in short, 30-minute segments that forces students to actively engage as they follow along in their own workbook. 

They’ll learn how to build flashcards by filling in blanks and work ACT-style practice problems. 

Students will also learn valuable time management skills. Upon completion, they should understand the average amount of time they can allocate per question and know what to do when too much time has lapsed.

“I am thrilled by the teacher feedback and the success of our Mississippi high school students using the Jumpstart Test Prep review,” McClendon said. “Opening the door to higher learning for students who may never have been accepted, or able to afford college on their own, feels very rewarding in itself.”

The program’s co-founder and CEO Sha Walker said he believes Canton juniors will enjoy the same bump in scores the students in last year’s program received.

“As with last year’s realized math and English gains, we expect major improvements when Jumpstart Test Prep’s reading and science prep is properly implemented for these students as well as much higher performance for those with no prior score,” Walker said. “Most of us are visual learners, and our review is a high visual product designed to capture the students’ attention.”