Sha Walker knows his company can change Mississippi schools

Two legislative appropriations later and Sha Walker has proven that his company, JumpStart Test Prep, has the ability to drastically improve Mississippi’s average ACT score.

JumpStart Test Prep, which was founded by both Walker and Dot McClendon, actively strives to help students prepare and perform better on the ACT.

“The legislature did a small appropriation for us two years ago to test out our math prep,” Walker said. “In that study, we saw half of the students showing improvement, and the average improvement was two and a half points.”

Legislators must have liked what they saw as they granted JumpStart another appropriation this past August.

“The legislature actually included us again for an appropriation to pilot our science and reading prep,” Walker said. “We got data back from the majority of the schools, and it’s through the roof.”

Walker and his team randomly selected 23 pilot schools to test out the science and reading program. Of the 23 schools, 21 were able to test students before the suspension of the semester due to COVID-19.

“Overall, more than half of students showed improvement,” Walker said. “The average improvement was over two points for composite [scores]. Reading was three and a half points average improvement. Science was three and a quarter points. English was almost two points, and math was still over two points.”

Now, imagine if those numbers could be translated to the entire Mississippi public school system. Walker has.

JumpStart recently hired a statistician to analyze the hypothetical implementation of their preparation program into all schools across the state. According to Walker, the results of the study suggest his program can take Mississippi’s average ACT score from 48th in the nation to tied  at 27th with Texas.

“This study has shown that when you apply this to the graduating class average…we can move composite score averages between one and two points,” Walker said. “If we were to move our graduating composite average one point, that would put us 38th in the nation…If we could move two points, it will move us 20 slots and put us 27th in the nation.”

Walker is more than confident that JumpStart can work in every school in Mississippi—if given the chance.

“You’re not going to find anyone at these pilot schools that’s going to say this didn’t work, because it did,” Walker said. “What we are hoping is the state program still continues. That next year, all juniors will be able to test on the ACT paid for by the state in the early spring…We are gearing up for that and making sure we are ready to go with our program, so that classrooms all over Mississippi can benefit from the professional tutoring from someone like Dot McClendon.”