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MDE offers school districts grants for blended pre-k programs

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The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) released a request for proposals (RFP) from Mississippi school districts to provide grant funds for blended prekindergarten classrooms.

The MDE’s offices of Special Education and Early Childhood seek to improve access to high-quality early childhood programs for children in Mississippi school districts, with an emphasis on providing inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities. Prekindergarten students with disabilities have the right to be included with their non-disabled peers to the extent appropriate to meet their individual needs, as provided for in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said access to high-quality early childhood education is critical for the growth of all students, but it’s especially important for students with disabilities.

“Getting children involved early with their typically developing peers has made positive changes in their learning, language and behavior. All children benefit from this approach. The environment is so rich when little ones have the opportunity to look out for one another,” she said.

The MDE expects early childhood programs to accomplish and demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • More children will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school.
  • More families will have access to quality early education programs.
  • Prekindergarten programs will receive resources and support to increase quality.
  • High-quality prekindergarten programs will collaborate with other early childhood education programs and related services.
  • Prekindergarten programs will use curricula that are evidence-based and aligned with the MDE’s Early Learning Standards for Classrooms Serving Three- and Four-Year-Old Children.
  • Prekindergarten programs will implement an integrated, effective system of early childhood curriculum, instruction, assessment, and program evaluation.
  • Prekindergarten programs will implement consistent and appropriate learning goals for children and demonstrate progress towards achieving these targets.

The MDE awarded grants to five districts to create six blended prekindergarten classes this year: Clinton, Pass Christian, Columbia, Houston and North Tippah.  The new grant can fund up to 10 additional classrooms.

Any school district in the state of Mississippi is eligible to apply for these grant funds. Districts who have applied for or who are currently receiving collaborative funds are not precluded from applying for these grant funds.

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