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As local leaders struggle to pull up schools in Mississippi, lawmakers prepare new approaches

Mississippi Republicans are making a new turn in long-running efforts to improve the state's education system.

Gov. Phil Bryant has signed measures easing charter school creation and holding back third-graders who can't read. The Republican controlled Legislature also approved state-funded prekindergarten and higher qualifications and merit pay for teachers.

Bryant says the changes, many of which he pushed, will improve what he calls a "fairly ineffective educational system." By many measures, Mississippi has shown improvement in recent decades, but still lags behind.

The changes come atop existing improvement efforts in places like Clarksdale, a town in the state's Delta region which struggles with poverty and falling population.

Superintendent Dennis Dupree has adopted efforts to create a stronger high school curriculum, pay teachers based on achievement and create preschool programs.

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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