The plan - called Redesigning Education for the 21st Century Workforce in Mississippi - incorporates self-paced online courses relevant to the job market and students receive support through on-site instructors. Students can select from one of seven career paths: health care, agriculture and natural resources, construction and manufacturing, transportation, business management and marketing,science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and human services.
The state chief wants high school students to select classes related to their desired career field, much like in college, and the state will offer online courses to students who want to graduate early or to those who are behind.
The goals, Bound said, are to prepare students for the workforce more effectively and to lower the state's dropout rate. About 35 to 40 percent of high school students in Mississippi fail to graduate, he said.
"They're all going into the workforce," Bounds said. "It's our job to make sure they capture the [required] skills."
The point, in part, is to make school seem more relevant to both those in danger of dropping out and those who would like to move faster than the standard pace.
"If a student can complete a course in 60 days instead of 180, then that student should be able to progress at his or her own pace," Bounds said. "For some, it may take longer." .... "We know they're dropping out because it doesn't seem to represent what happens in the future," he said.