Miles to Go: Mississippi Pre-K: Time to Begin


Report Material

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News Coverage

Mississippi's youngest students pile on the absences, lose learning time. The Hechinger Report. (October, 2014).

Without high-quality preschool, Mississippi's kids risk being left behind. The Hechinger Report. (July, 2012).

Related Research

Miles to Go: Mississippi Update: Improving Education and the Economy from the Start. Southern Education Foundation. (2009).

Miles to Go: Mississippi. Southern Education Foundation. (2006).

Miles to Go Report Series. Southern Education Foundation. (1999-2010).

Suggested Citation

Southern Education Foundation. Miles to Go-Mississippi Pre-K Time to Begin. 2010.


2010 - The report finds Mississippi is the only Southern state that has no state-supported pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) program.  The brief reviews how Mississippi is falling behind other states in the Deep South in early childhood education; why Mississippi needs a Pre-K program now; options for how the state can finance such a program; and current opportunities (even in economic hard times) for Mississippi to begin to build on existing assets to establish a Pre-K program for the benefit of all Mississippians in the future.

Major findings of the Report:

  • Far too many Mississippi children are not school-ready when they reach kindergarten and repeat grades.  In 2008, one out of every 14 kindergarten students and one our of every 15 students in the first grade in Mississippi schools had to repeat their grade.
  • High grade retention and drop out rates have had dire long-term economic consequences on the state and its people. The poverty rate for Mississippians without a high school diploma was 32.2 percent in 2008 compared to just 4.6 percent of those with a college degree.
  • Pre-K's benefits far out weight its costs: The potential returns on investment range from $6.97 in benefits for every dollar of cost to $12.30 in benefits for every dollar spent on Pre-K over a period of 40 years.  These savings would come from lowered grade retention rates, special education placements and dropout rates.


1. The entire Mississippi Congressional delegation should work together to make the passage and funding of the Early Learning Challenge Fund a top priority and undertake every effort to help Mississippi become competitive for federal funding to begin a statewide program of high-quality Pre-K.

2. Mississippi should establish a prestigious bipartisan commission on early childhood education to engage the Mississippi people, educators, and experts in an open process to develop a complete, specific plan of action for establishing and financing a statewide program of high-quality Pre-K as soon as possible.

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