By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Although students in the Tupelo Public School District’s pre-kindergarten program generally enter the school for 4-year-olds behind their age peers in academic skills, many of them have caught up by third grade, according to data compiled by school district officials.
The Early Childhood Education Center places a priority on accepting students with the greatest need.
Students who apply for the school take an Early Prevention of School Failure test and those with the lowest test scores are given priority in the program.
However, in each of the past four years, third-graders who had attended the school as 4-year-olds performed nearly as well or better on state standardized tests as students who did not attend.
The data goes back four years because that was the first year that students began taking the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition, the test the state currently uses to analyze the performance of elementary school students. Students on that test can score, from lowest to highest, minimal, basic, proficient and advanced.
Last year, former ECEC students outscored non-ECEC students on both the third-grade language and math tests. Sixty-one percent of former ECEC students scored at least proficient on the third-grade language test, compared to 57 percent of non-ECEC students. Seventy-four percent did so in math, compared to 71 percent who did not attend the program.