SuperTalk Mississippi

Test prep program helps students raise test scores

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Mississippi students stand to benefit from this test prep program.

Jumpstart is an online, on demand review course to help students do better with the ACT exam, the GED, high school equivalency exams, the practice core, or teaching exams. It was developed by Dot McClendon, who has been educating students in Brookhaven for 40 years, and is a STAR teacher hall of fame recipient.

Sha Walker, who developed the online portion of Jumpstart, worked for a test prep company for eight years before that.

“Dot Mclendon helped my daughter improve three points composite in a total of 24 hours time, and that saved me around $10-12,000 off tuition at Ole Miss,” Walker said. “With my background, my next thought was, ‘how can I take what she knows and develop it into an online course so that everybody can benefit from what she knows about that test?’.”

Walker said they incorporated all of McClendon’s tips, strategies and techniques that she has developed over her impressive 40 year career and put it into this program.

“What we’ve done is design a content review of the content that you’re going to be tested on for any of those exams and you’re able to watch that content, be reviewed online and complete a workbook as you’re watching along,” said Walker.  “It involves active participation and you’ve got to stay engaged as you move through the material.”

Walker said they started selling complete math prep in September of last year and have many success stories on how it improved student’s test scores.

“We did a field study at Long Beach High school with 42 students that we recently completed, and we saw a 2.5 point average improvement per student,” said Walker. “A student from Southwest Community College completed and passed the GED program. The only thing she needed was math for GED and she moved form a 131 score to a 151, so she saw a 20 point improvement.”

His advice to students is if you’re in ninth or tenth grade taking the ACT for the first time, go ahead and take it a few times to get comfortable with the test.

“When it matters, when you’re trying to really max the score that you can, that’s when you need us, so that would be in the 11th and 12th grade time frame,” said Walker. “You would want to complete our review as close to test date as possible and we will help you get the biggest improvement in the shortest period of time.”

Right now, Jumpstart offers complete math prep, and they will have compete english prep in September. Walker said they are going to keep working until they have reading and science covered.

He believes this program will help the whole state, since it has the lowest ACT scores in the country.

“Our state legislature has seen the effectiveness of the program through the pilots and the field tests we have done, looked at the data and now they have appropriated money in the education bill for this program to be administered in more high schools in our state,” said Walker. “We have a composite math score of 18.1 and if we were to apply the improvement we saw at Long Beach statewide to our juniors who have to take it every February, our state would move from around 50th to 27th, and we think providing the expertise as a curriculum tool in the classroom that this product offers, we could achieve that.”

Walker said they are excited about getting going with that initiative and seeing more schools adopt this through their program.

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