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Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives Rated Among Top Five States in the Nation for Quality Standards for Second Consecutive Year

June 6, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. – For the second year in a row, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) for meeting all 10 quality standards for early childhood education, making Mississippi one of only five states in the nation that meet all 10 benchmarks.

The latest ranking is published in the NIEER report, The State of Preschool 2016. The annual report presents data on the state of pre-K programs nationally as well as breakdowns of each state’s progress in providing high-quality pre-K services to 3- and 4-year-olds.

“Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives are leading the nation in providing high-quality early childhood education and set the standard for pre-K programs throughout the state,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “NIEER’s recognition validates Mississippi’s pre-K model as well as all of the work of the teachers, administrators and community partners who have worked together to provide children in their communities with high-quality pre-K programs.”

The NIEER report evaluates whether states have requirements for early learning standards, teacher education and professional development, program monitoring, screening, referral and support services, among other standards.

The Mississippi Legislature passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act in 2013 to provide funding to local communities to establish, expand and facilitate the implementation of quality early childhood education and development services. All ELCs include a lead partner, which can be a public school or other nonprofit group with the expertise and capacity to manage a 4-year-old pre-K program.

There are 10 ELCs throughout the state that serve more than 1,700 children. The number of ELCs will increase to 14 for the 2017-18 school year. The Legislature initially appropriated $3 million annually for the ELCs and increased funding to $4 million in 2016-17. In 2015-16, Mississippi spent $1,787 in state dollars per child in ELCs. When combined with federal or local funds, per-pupil spending in Mississippi was $4,031. Mississippi ELCs serve 4 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds. Nationally, 32 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in public pre-K.

Results from the fall 2016 statewide Kindergarten Readiness Assessment showed that kindergarten students who attended public or private pre-K were far more likely to start school prepared to learn than students who did not. Statewide, the average score on the 2016 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was 502, well below the target score of 530 that indicates kindergarten readiness. The average score among kindergarteners who attended pre-K programs was 539, nine points above the readiness score.

“Mississippi has solid evidence that high-quality early childhood education gives students a strong start to school and continues to have a powerful effect on academic achievement throughout a child’s education,” Wright said.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist