December 14, 2017
JACKSON, Miss. – Kindergarten students in Western Line, Petal and Corinth school districts earned the highest average scores on the fall 2017 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment thanks to the districts’ efforts to strengthen pre-K programs in their communities.
Kindergartners in all three districts exceeded the fall target score of 530 that demonstrates kindergarten readiness. Western Line students earned an average score of 574, Petal students averaged 564, and Corinth student averaged 557.
Statewide, the average score on the fall 2017 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was 503. Only 20 of the state’s 144 school districts demonstrated an average score of 530 or above. Nine of those 20 districts have invested in pre-K through the Early Learning Collaborative program.
Research from a four-year study show that 85 percent of students at the beginning of kindergarten with a score of 530 or above on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment are on track to become proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade.
Western Line offers pre-K in both of its elementary schools.
“Western Line has invested heavily in our pre-kindergarten program. The 75 students who participate in our pre-K program and then matriculate into our kindergarten program show learning readiness and assessment measures which far exceed those kindergarteners who come to us without the benefit of our pre-K program. We continue to actively recruit students for our pre-K program and train teachers in innovative strategies for reaching early instructional goals. This stronger foundation leads to students with increased aptitude for achievement,” said Larry Green, superintendent of Western Line School District.
Petal and Corinth both have Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) in their districts.
“Early childhood education and pre-K continues to be a strong focus in the Petal School District. Through our efforts, kindergarten students are coming better prepared to start school, which allows our teachers to take them to the next level. In addition, we are able to connect with families sooner to better foster positive communication before their K-12 experience begins,” said Dr. Matt Dillon, superintendent of Petal School District.
Mississippi’s ELC program serves close to 2,000 in 14 communities and has made Mississippi a national leader in early childhood education standards. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s ELCs for the past two years for meeting all 10 quality standards for preschool. Only six states earned this recognition.
“Quality pre-K experiences are essential to a student’s future academic success. Through our pre-K program, Corinth students are provided quality academic instruction and experiential opportunities that eliminate many of the emotional, social, and academic deficits that these children have when they start in our program. We find these children are better prepared for Kindergarten and continue to outperform those students who have not had a Pre-K experience,” said Dr. Lee Childress, superintendent of Corinth School District.
The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment evaluates early literacy skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right.
Mississippi started testing incoming kindergarteners at the start of the school year in 2014. Though the test continues to show the majority of kindergarteners start school unprepared, students are showing incremental improvements.
Statewide, the percentage of students scoring kindergarten-ready has increased from 34.6 percent in 2014 to 36.9 percent in 2017. Students scoring below the target score has dropped from 65.4 in 2014 to 63.1 in 2017.
Roughly half of Mississippi school districts offered pre-K in 2016-17.
Making high-quality early childhood education accessible to all children is one of the primary goals of the Mississippi State Board of Education Strategic Plan.
“High-quality early childhood education is not only the pathway to kindergarten readiness, but it has a positive impact on academic achievement throughout a child’s education,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Several studies have estimated that for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education programs, the return on investment ranges from $7 to $12. Investment on the front end pays dividends on the back end of a child’s education.”
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR