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Contact: Anne Hierholzer
STARKVILLE, Miss.âThis month, the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State will mark a half-century of service to the state.
Housed since 1999 under the universityâs Office of Research and Economic Development, the RCU is part of the land-grant institutionâs mission to help improve the lives of Mississippians through research, innovation and other areas of public education.
The organizationâs professional staff focuses on career and technical education that trains secondary and postsecondary students for careers in high-demand industries.
âThe RCU has an established track record of working with educators to improve public education in Mississippi,â said David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development.
âThey are to be commended for their decades of service to the students of Mississippi, and I look forward to their many accomplishments in the years to come,â Shaw said.
The RCU traces its history back to 1963 and congressional passage of the Vocational Education Act that many regard as a primary impetus for reawakening interest throughout the U.S. in what was then called vocational education.
With an emphasis on learning that leads to employability, the then-Research Coordinating Unit for Vocational-Technical Education was established 1965. After three years of wide-ranging discussions with educational leaders at all levels, leaders and staff members of the unit began writing new curricula for Mississippiâs career and technical education programs.
During succeeding decades, the RCU concentrated on addressing a theory-practice gap by linking research results with curriculum development. During this time, it also developed customized training programs for emerging areas of industry and implemented a training program for new CTE teachers who were skilled in their fields but often lacked a traditional teaching background.
In 2001, a grant from the Mississippi Department of Education enabled a unit assessment team to begin overseeing statewide assessments for secondary and postsecondary CTE students. The team since has developed, administered and reported on all state secondary and postsecondary assessments in that academic field.
âWe at MDE strongly value our longstanding partnership with the RCU, and we congratulate them on their 50 years of service to our state,â said Mike Mulvihill, the Mississippi Department of Educationâs career and technical education director.
âWe look forward to continuing our work with them to bring innovation and rigor to our state CTE programs,â he added.
RCU director Julie Jordan said her organization also has collaborated with other state agencies and regional organizations on numerous programs and initiatives over the years. She noted that the RCU broadened its longstanding partnership with MDE in 2013 to encompass training, evaluation and research across a variety of public education initiatives.
While the RCU maintains a core focus on CTE curriculum, assessment and professional development, Jordan said it has expanded into such areas as innovative school models, statewide educator-evaluation models and performance-based compensation.
âSince our founding in 1965, the RCU has come a long way,â she said. âOur work to expand and improve CTE education in Mississippi is ongoing, and we continue to collaborate with educators and leaders across the state to bring innovation to public education.â
She and the staff are âproud of all we have accomplished, and we continue our mission to ensure that every Mississippi student graduates ready for college, career, and life,â Jordan emphasized.
For more information on the RCU, visit www.rcu.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippiâs flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.