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Mississippi board adds 7 new early learning collaboratives

April 22, 2022 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi will add seven new early learning collaboratives in the coming school year to help better prepare 4-year-old preschool students for kindergarten.

The state Board of Education approved the new collaboratives Thursday, taking the total statewide from 23 to 30. The new ones will be in Jackson Public Schools, Noxubee County, Senatobia, Holmes County, Leland, Long Beach and the city of Pontotoc.

The collaboratives focus on development of motor skills, social and emotional skills, general knowledge and language, including preparation for learning to read.

They are partnerships among public school districts, Head Start agencies, private or parochial schools, child care centers and nonprofit organizations.

“Early learning collaboratives have proven to be successful, and they continue to give Mississippi’s youngest students access to a quality early childhood education, positioning them for greater academic achievement,” state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said in a news release Friday.

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Wright said this is the largest expansion of collaboratives since Mississippi created its program in 2013.

The state Department of Education said the new collaboratives will serve 2,050 children in 35 new classrooms and 72 existing classrooms, bringing the total of collaborative students to more than 6,000.

The department said the National Institute for Early Education Research recognized Mississippi in 2015 as one of five states that met all 10 of its quality standards for pre-kindergarten programs. In 2021, the organization recognized Mississippi as one of six states that met all quality standards.