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Miss. Making Gains in Pre-K, Still Lagging
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Mississippi is making modest gains in pre-Kindergarten education. That’s according to a new report by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research. But early education in the state still lags behind the rest of the nation.

2014 was the first year Mississippi had a state-funded early education program. With just three million dollars, the state created 11, public-private pre-k programs known as early learning collaboratives.

 “It serves four percent of the four-year-olds, which is a start, and it sets high standards and expectations,” says Barnett.

That’s Steve Barnett, the Director of NIEER, the group responsible for the national State of Preschool Report. To increase the positive educational outcomes associated with pre-k, Barnett says there are two things on which state leaders need to concentrate.

This year lawmakers increased the pre-k budget by 33 percent, raising the annual appropriation from three to four millions dollars. Republican Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula is on both the Education and Appropriations Committees.

“We need more money put towards early education because it’s the right investment. We’re limited in funds right now but that’s not going to stop me. I think it was telling this year, in a down budget year, that we increased early-education by the million dollars.

A recent report by a bipartisan state research committee has criticized the state’s early-learning program arguing pre-k students do no better on state tests than their peers