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40% of Mississippi Kids Unprepared for Kindergarten

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Nov 2013 04:42pm | comments

More than 40-percent of Mississippi kids are showing up unprepared for Kindergarten. That's one finding of a new survey of Mississippi's Kindergarten teachers. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports advocates believe this report underscores the need for universal pre-K.

The survey, conducted by Mississippi Kids Count, also claims that 30-percent of kids are entering kindergarten lack significant adult involvement in their lives.

Linda Southward with Kids Count says many kids are showing up at school without the basic skills like identifying colors and shapes or unable to hold a pencil.

"Really, we need to be able to improve the quality of child care in Mississippi. And we need to have a quality pre-K program and that being linked to kindergarten. Kindergarten being linked to first grade and excreta. So it really is a continuum," Southward said.

Southward says the report underscores the need to get more three-and-four year olds into a pre-K program....fewer than half of Mississippi kids currently are.

The report also found a race gap, with predominately African-American programs having higher class sizes and percentages of unprepared kids.

Some communities, such as Petal Mississippi, are expanding their pre-K programs.

Nadine Coleman, who helps run the program for the district, says they have seen big improvements.

"Communities and school districts are really looking at trying to impact that time in a child's life where the stage is really set for how well they will do later on," Coleman said.

This is the first year that the state will fund pre-K....setting aside 3-million dollars for grants to fund programs.

Kim Benton with the Department of Education says they are working to implement a single statewide standard to determine kindergarten readiness for the first time starting next year.

"Which I firmly believe will verify the importance of that early foundation. The need for pre-kindergarten that is high quality with equity of access for all of our boys and girls across Mississippi," Benton said.

So far, more than 70-programs across the state have filed letters saying they intend to apply for pre-K grant money.




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