CS4MS Pilot Program Launched by Mississippi Department of Education

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has announced the launch of the Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) program, developed in partnership with the RCU.

Thirty-four school districts from across Mississippi will participate in the first year of the CS4MS pilot program, which will debut during the 2016-2017 academic year. The goal of CS4MS is to introduce Mississippi students to computer science (CS), equipping them to be technologically literate citizens and preparing them for CS jobs, as well as other STEM-related careers.

“The Mississippi Department of Education is extremely excited to unveil the first steps of a comprehensive K-12 computer science strategy that will give our students the ability to compete on a worldwide basis,” said Mike Mulvihill, director of career and technical education at MDE. “Working in conjunction with the RCU, we will pilot the first phase of this process with 34 forward-looking districts to prepare our students to be proficient in the workforce and have the ability to adapt to new technology as it becomes available.”

The CS4MS pilot program was created to address an urgent economic need. According to, there are currently 607,708 open computing jobs nationwide, but the US only graduated 42,969 CS students into the workforce last year. Increasingly, schools and parents alike are realizing the potential and promise of CS, yet most schools do not offer CS opportunities for students.

The CS4MS pilot program aims to address this knowledge gap so that Mississippi’s students can compete for CS jobs alongside candidates from any other state or country around the world. In order to qualify for the CS4MS pilot, the 34 participating districts have committed to a robust schedule of professional development, data gathering, and adequate technology and infrastructure. During the pilot’s first year, 235 teachers from 156 elementary and high schools will deliver CS content. For elementary school students, the CS curriculum will include coding, digital literacy, keyboarding, and robotics. High school students will enroll in a comprehensive CS course that covers the fundamental concepts and big ideas of computing and coding.

During future years of the CS4MS pilot program, MDE plans to add CS courses for 6th-8th grades and expand high school course offerings. By 2024, CS4MS aims to have a continuous K-12 CS curriculum in place for all Mississippi public schools that gives students a foundation in problem-solving, critical thinking, logic, coding, and cyber literacy.

In order to bring CS4MS to life, MDE partnered with the RCU to lay the groundwork for this ambitious pilot program. RCU staff conducted research to discover how other states incorporate CS into their public schools and then worked with MDE to select pilot curricula, set initial standards, and structure the program. The RCU also spearheaded the creation of a CS4MS steering committee that includes representatives from K-12, higher education, and industry.

As CS4MS unfolds, the RCU will continue to ensure educators are equipped with the professional development and support they need to make the program a success. The RCU will work with the CS4MS steering committee on an ongoing basis to craft a K-12 CS framework that is tailored to Mississippi’s specific needs.

“The CS4MS goal is one of the most important education initiatives since the Education Reform Act,” said Julie Jordan, director of the RCU. “I see this as an economic imperative because not doing this will handicap the future competitiveness of our students and our state. If we can leapfrog other states with this initiative, we can change the economic trajectory of our workforce.”


CS4MS Highlighted In Debut Issue of School Focus Magazine

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi’s new magazine on K-12 education, School Focus, premiered in early August.

Produced by the RCU in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Education, School Focus highlights the accomplishments of Mississippi teachers and students and provides a glimpse into classrooms and schools across the state. It is posted to the RCU’s website and has been disseminated in print and electronic forms to thousands of educators, officials, and other groups across the state.

Kim Benton, chief academic officer at the MDE, said the magazine highlights the hard work of teachers, students, and administrators and provides an opportunity for Mississippians to see the progress and achievements of school districts.

“I am pleased to share the great news from our schools because that is where the real change happens for our boys and girls across the state. I am optimistic about the future of public education in Mississippi, and I believe these stories prove we are well on our way to higher achievement,” Benton said.

This issue has a special section on the state educational standards, covers an innovative computer science pilot, and gives an exclusive look inside an elementary teacher’s desk. School Focus combines feature stories with informative material for educators and administrators.

“Every district in this state has a success story—a student, an educator, a program—and we hope this magazine can bring awareness to and celebrate those stories while also challenging educators to try new things and reach across district lines for ideas and support,” said Kristen Dechert, who oversees communication, research, and evaluation at the RCU.

The magazine, which was written, designed, and printed at the RCU, will be published twice a year with fall and spring issues. The RCU’s communication team and the MDE hope it will inform educators and other stakeholders of the exciting work happening in Mississippi’s K-12 classrooms.

“School Focus complements our established magazine Connections, which focuses on high school career and technical education,” Dechert said. “Together, the two tell a powerful story of public education in Mississippi by highlighting students on the path to college and career readiness and the schools and educators who prepare them.”

For more information on School Focus, visit or contact Emile Creel at


Computer Science Pilot Program Wraps Up First Teacher Training

STARKVILLE, Miss. —The Computer Science for Mississippi program is set to help the state’s students prepare for careers in a high-tech, high-demand field.

 Also known as CS4MS, the program has completed its summer training for teachers in anticipation of the pilot program’s rollout in districts across Mississippi during the upcoming school year.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), in partnership with the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State University, CS4MS aims to equip Mississippi’s students with the computer science skills necessary to enter the high-tech workforce.

At the training sessions, elementary and high school educators from 38 participating school districts across Mississippi learned how to teach the new computer science curricula. Over 160 teachers took part in hands-on training and robotics demonstrations, practiced coding with, and received an Edison robot to take back to their classrooms in the fall.

“We are looking to the teachers who took part in this training to help us shape what computer science will look like in every grade level, in every school across the state,” said Shelly Hollis, a project manager for the RCU who is overseeing the CS4MS pilot.

Computer science is a high-demand field that currently has more job openings than workers qualified to fill those positions. The MDE hopes that by teaching computer science skills in the K-12 years, students will be better positioned to build careers in computer science and related technology fields.

“The teachers recognize the need for students to be exposed to computer science concepts, and they understand how important these skills are to be college and career ready,” Hollis said.

In the pilot year, computer science curricula will be introduced to students in grades K-5 and 9-12. In addition to pretraining over the summer, teachers will be supported throughout the upcoming school year with further training. CS4MS will grow to include additional grades in the coming years.

“Only a few other states have adopted a K-12 curriculum for computer science, so Mississippi is at the forefront of the growing computer science movement,” said Hollis. “The goal is to have computer science offered in each grade, at every school in Mississippi by 2024.”                                                    

For more information on CS4MS, visit or contact Shelly Hollis at 662.325.6313 or

To learn more about the RCU and its work to support public education in the state of Mississippi, visit