Preschool report recognizes Mississippi as a top five state for high-quality pre-K

The National Institute for Early Education Research recognized Mississippi in its latest report on pre-K quality as one of only five states whose state-funded pre-K program meets all 10 quality standards for early childhood education.

The latest ranking is published in the The State of Preschool 2022 report by NIEER. The annual survey provides an in-depth look at state-funded education for 3- and 4- 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 programs, which are partnerships among school districts, Head Start agencies, childcare centers and non-profits. The program has grown from 11 collaboratives serving 1,700 children in 2014 to 37 collaboratives serving 6,800 children in 2022-23.

Because of the quality of the Early Learning Collaboratives, Mississippi has consistently been one of only several states meeting all standards.

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 doubled to $16 million in 2021-22.

The Mississippi State Board of Education has made increasing access to high-quality early childhood education one of its top priorities. The Mississippi Department of Education has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to build the state’s early childhood education infrastructure through coaching and professional development and by providing guidance and support to school districts. State funds now support these efforts.

“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.”

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