For Immediate Release: April 22, 2019
JACKSON, Miss – The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi in its latest report on pre-K quality as one of only nine states whose publicly funded pre-K program meets the majority of NIEER’s quality standards for early childhood education.
The latest ranking is published in the NIEER report, The State of Preschool 2018. The annual report tracks state-funded preschool access, resources and quality.
NIEER evaluated Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative (ELC) programs, which are partnerships among school districts, Head Start agencies, child care centers, and non-profit organizations.
NIEER recognized Mississippi’s ELCs for meeting nine out of 10 quality standards for early childhood education. Five other states met nine NIEER standards, and only three met all 10.
“Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative program has become a national model for providing high-quality early childhood education,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education for Mississippi. “High-quality early childhood education has a long-term impact on student achievement. Increasing access to high-quality pre-K is one of the key drivers of rising student achievement in Mississippi.”
Mississippi met all 10 NIEER standards in 2015 and 2016, and nine out of 10 in 2017. NIEER added coaching for teachers to its standard for professional development in 2017.
Mississippi expects to meet all 10 NIEER benchmarks in the 2019 State of Preschool Report because the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) hired a team of early childhood education coaches at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
MDE’s early childhood education coaches are funded through a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help develop the state’s early childhood education infrastructure. Major grant activities include coaching support for teachers statewide in a variety of pre-K settings.
The Legislature passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act in 2013, which provided $3 million to establish a limited number of ELCs in underserved areas throughout the state. Based on the immediate results just two years later, the Legislature increased funding to $4 million, and increased it to $6.5 million for FY19.
Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative program served 5% of 4-year-olds in 2017-18, up from 3% the previous year. When combined with district-funded pre-K programs, approximately 18% of Mississippi 4-year-olds attended public pre-K programs in 2017-18.
The Mississippi State Board of Education has made increasing access to high-quality early childhood education one if its top priorities and has leveraged philanthropy to build the state’s early childhood education infrastructure through coaching and professional development and by providing guidance and support to school districts.
Read the State of Preschool Report 2018.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations