/Mississippi doubles number of 4-year-olds in pre-K

Mississippi doubles number of 4-year-olds in pre-K

Mississippi News is adding five early learning collaborations to its non-profit portfolio in August 2022, so that Mississippi’s youngest learners can be served more effectively. The State Board of Education approved Thursday the creation of the new collaboratives that will be serving 840 4-year-old students. These new additions are the first to be approved as part of an expansion that will double the number students served. Pre-K programs that are made up partnerships between school districts, Head Start agencies and childcare centers as well as nonprofit groups, are called early learning collaboratives. There are 18 collaborations currently serving more than 3000 children in the state. The Brookhaven School district, Kosciusko Schools District, Rankin County, Scott County, Scott County, and South Panola school districts will all have early learning collaborations. This brings the total number of early education collaboratives in Mississippi to 23. Carey Wright, the state superintendent of education said that Mississippi’s early learning collaborations will increase, which means that more Mississippi preschoolers will be able to access quality early childhood education. The collaboratives were established in 2013 and have been widely recognized for their quality and success in preparing students to enter kindergarten. Collectives were able to test 77% of kindergarten-ready students in 2019, which is 8% more than other state-funded preK programs. The collaboratives were not widely available in the past and served only 8% state 4-year-olds by 2021. In the 2021 session, the Legislature increased funding for collaboratives by doubling it. This brought the state’s total spending on the program to $16million. The Department of Education has started to approve new collaboratives, and will continue to solicit proposals over the next few weeks. The new funding will allow the early learning collaborations to reach twice as many 4-year olds once it is allotted. Rachel Canter, Mississippi First director, said, “It’s exciting that we have approved additional collaborations.” Rachel Canter is a non-profit that helped to write the law that created the collaboratives. “We’re hopeful that we will have more communities approved before the end of this school year (to open August), and I believe MDE is on track.