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Mississippi named one of 5 states that meet pre-K program standards

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Mississippi has been named one of only five states across the nation whose state-funded pre-K program meets all 10 quality standards for early childhood education.

According to the latest report published in the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) report “The State of Preschool 2022,” Mississippi has continued to be one of only several states meeting all NIEER standards.

The annual survey provides an in-depth look at state-funded education for three and four-year-olds nationally and in each state with a focus on enrollment, spending, and 10 policies that support quality education.

NIEER evaluated Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative (ELC) programs, which are partnerships among school districts, Head Start agencies, childcare centers, and non-profit organizations.

“Mississippi continues to be a national leader in early childhood education because of the quality of our Early Learning Collaborative program,” said Mike Kent, interim state superintendent of education. “Increased access to high-quality early childhood education has been a major factor in Mississippi’s rising student achievement.”

The Mississippi Legislature passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act in 2013, which provided $3 million to establish a limited number of collaboratives in underserved areas throughout the state. Funding increased in subsequent years based on the program’s immediate success reaching $8 million by 2020-21 and doubling to $16 million in 2021-22.

The number of Mississippi four-year-olds enrolled in Early Learning Collaboratives rose from three percent in 2016-17 to eight percent in 2021-22.

When combined with Head Start (23 percent), special education pre-K programs (three percent), and other public pre-K programs (19 percent) approximately 53 percent of Mississippi four-year-olds attended public early childhood education programs in 2021-22.

At this time, Mississippi’s national ranking for pre-K has moved up to 37th across the nation for access and dropped to 41st for in-state spending per child.

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