MS Early Childhood


SECC will work with the Mississippi Department of Education's early childhood coordinator and other staff to develop a plan for a comprehensive early childhood strategy for the state through a process that engages other early childhood stakeholders and program providers, including Head Start, private daycare providers, and others.

Impact Story

Pre- or Not to Pre-: Children in Mississippi Gain Pre-K Option

This project is in the following state: Mississippi.

This project relates to the following ED Priority:

  • Ensuring the school readiness and success of preschool-age children and their successful transition to kindergarten

Related work:
REL Southeast
School Readiness

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Previous Work Updates

2016

October

SECC and CEELO held the monthly conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, on October 27. A consultant from the Build Initiative also was present to understand MDE’s current need to expand its reach beyond the collaboratives by working with other preK agencies to build teachers and principals’ knowledge of the foundation of child development. Dr. Dent will be bringing a team to the Build Initiative’s Learning Table Meetings. The second cohort has been established with 10 collaboratives. Fifteen school districts are a part of these collaboratives. On October 28, the SECC early childhood team conducted a phone conference with Dr. Dent to discuss work tasks for Year 5.

September

SECC and CEELO held the monthly conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, on September 21. The purpose of the meeting was to learn about early childhood efforts in Mississippi, serve as a thought partner, and to discuss ways in which SECC and CEELO can coordinate technical assistance work. Currently, Mississippi is focusing on increasing the quality of Pre-K programs. The team also discussed the importance of Mississippi’s early learning staff being at the table during discussions of the ESSA state plan.

August

Staff from SECC and CEELO held the monthly conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, on August 22. The meeting was a continuation of the discussion from last month. There was more discussion on Mississippi’s Comprehensive Early Literacy Assessment pilot as well as the Mississippi Year 5 work plan. MDE has announced its fall early childhood education regionally offered trainings. Pre-K LETRS and Integrating Early Learning into Standards into Activities will be offered from September 7–December 9.

July

SECC and CEELO held the monthly conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, on July 18. During the meeting, Dr. Dent provided updates on the Early Childhood Collaboratives and the work of the Comprehensive Early Learning Assessment Stakeholder Group Meetings. In addition, the discussion focused on planning Year 5 TA work. This discussion will continue at the next monthly meeting on August 22.

June

SECC and CEELO’s monthly phone conference with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, was canceled due to scheduling conflicts. During this month, SECC early childhood project lead, Kathleen Theodore, met with Dr. Dent at the CEELO Roundtable Meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to begin preliminary needs sensing for the Year 5 Mississippi Early Childhood Project. In addition, the SECC early childhood team will meet on June 27 to begin planning SECC’s Year 5 role in early childhood regarding lessons learned and selecting strategies for high impact and positive outcomes in early childhood.

May

SECC and CEELO’s monthly phone conference with MDE on May 26 was cancelled due to a change in Dr. Jill Dent’s schedule. MDE is continuing to excel as the leader of early childhood efforts in the state. Recently, MDE announced a partnership with the North Mississippi Education Consortium and the University of Mississippi Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning to offer a free two-week Approved Specialized Early Childhood Education Training Program June 13–17 and June 20–24 in Oxford, Mississippi, along with online and field experience follow-up during the 2016–2017 school year. In addition, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives (ELC) in the latest edition of its annual yearbook, The 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook, for meeting all 10-quality standards for early childhood education. This distinction places Mississippi among only five states in the nation that meet all 10 benchmarks.

April

SECC and CEELO held the monthly conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of early childhood, on April 28. Dr. Dent provided updates on early childhood work in Mississippi. MDE is planning for a second cohort for the Early Learning Collaborative. Dr. Dent identified TA needs for each of the centers (i.e., SECC, CEELO).

March

SECC and CEELO held a conference call with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of Early Childhood, on March 24. Dr. Dent provided updates on Mississippi’s progress with implementing the Early Learning Collaborative Act and discussed potential technical assistance needs. The monitoring tool and rate of readiness documents that SECC and CEELO reviewed have been approved.

February

During this month, Jill Dent, MDE director of Early Childhood, disseminated the early childhood transition folders for Pre-K students to all prekindergarten programs in the state. The transition folders include the following documents: Kindergarten Transition Plan, Transition to Kindergarten Webinar, Transition Folder Development PowerPoint, Transition Folder Checklist, and a Child Information Sheet Sample. The transition plan was based on the work of the Early Childhood Stakeholder group, which SECC supported by assisting with planning, facilitating, and finding evidence-based resources. SECC and CEELO’s monthly telephone conference with MDE on February 25 was canceled due to Jill Dent being on travel.

January

SECC and CEELO’s monthly telephone conference with MDE Early Childhood staff on January 28 was canceled due to a change in schedule for Jill Dent, MDE Early Childhood director.

2015

December

Staff from SECC and CEELO held a phone conference with the MDE early childhood staff on December 18. The participants included Pam Bonsu, SECC early childhood team; Jill Dent, MDE Early Childhood director; Debbie Mazzeo, SECC/RMC partner; Jim Squires, CEELO liaison; and Kathleen Theodore, SECC Early Childhood project lead. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the MDE’s plan to evaluate the collaboratives, updates on the work of the Early Childhood Stakeholder Group, and future work. In addition, during the call, SECC and CEELO staff expressed their admiration for MDE’s and Dr. Dent’s work with early childhood in Mississippi. Mississippi has made great strides with building an infrastructure for early childhood.

November

The SECC Early Childhood Team emailed the team’s feedback on the draft plans from the MDE Early Childhood Stakeholder’s Group Meetings. Because of last month’s needs assessment phone conference with Dr. Jill Dent, the team was able to utilize the SECC ECCoP to host a phone conference between Mississippi and Alabama early childhood specialists. This provided a wonderful opportunity for the two states to share and learn from each other. As a result of the CoP phone conference, the early childhood specialists are sharing resources and communicating through email. In addition, the SECC Early Childhood Team will continue to utilize the SECC ECCoP by organizing monthly phone conferences with additional Alabama and Mississippi early childhood specialists participating in these conversations.

October

SECC staff reviewed the draft plans from the Early Childhood Stakeholders’ Group meetings. These documents are currently under quality assurance review. In addition, SECC staff conducted a needs assessment phone conference with MDE Early Childhood Director Jill Dent. The meeting provided an opportunity to reflect and build upon previous work in Year 3. As a result of this meeting, more targeted assistance and support will be given to school improvement strategies that will promote continuous quality improvement.

September

SECC staff finalized the Year 4 Mississippi Early Childhood Plan. In addition, SECC staff shared several family engagement resources with Mississippi’s early childhood staff such as webinars and family engagement newsletters. SECC staff will review the draft plans from the early childhood stakeholders in October.

August

SECC staff member Kathleen Theodore cofacilitated the Mississippi Early Childhood Stakeholder’s Meeting on August 26. This was the last stakeholder’s meeting. As a result of this meeting, stakeholders finalized early childhood plans based on their focus area group. In addition, teams made plans to conduct virtual meetings to discuss their plans. Teams will then submit their plans on Google Drive for review.

July

SECC/AIR Senior TA Consultant Debbie Meibaum and SECC staff collaborated with MDE staff to develop a draft of revisions for Year 4 of the Mississippi Early Childhood Project work. The Mississippi Head Start Association, Mississippi Department of Human Services, Mississippi Department of Education, and Head Start Collaboration Office held the 2015 Mississippi Early Childhood Conference in Natchez. The conference was at the Natchez Convention Center on July 21 and 23. Topics related to all aspects of early childhood were a part of this conference, including social-emotional development, thematic units, mathematics strategies, literacy strategies, inclusion of children with special needs, circle time, music, ECERS, technology, the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, and Child Find. In addition, there was a pre-conference day for teachers and administrators prior to the conference on July 20. SECC staff also collaborated with the MDE director of early childhood to plan next month’s stakeholder meeting.

June

SECC and RMC partner staff, Debbie Mazzeo, assisted in planning the MDE Early Childhood Stakeholder’s meeting for June with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE Director of Early Childhood, as well as the Kindergarten Guidelines Review Meeting with MDE Consultant Lydia Boutwell. SECC staff, Tracy Long, assisted with creating surveys for these meetings. Kathleen Theodore, SECC program associate, facilitated the Kindergarten Guidelines meeting on June 23 and provided technical assistance and feedback at the Early Childhood Stakeholders’ Meeting on June 24.

May

SECC project lead, Kathleen Theodore, conducted a phone conference with Dr. Jill Dent, MDE director of Early Childhood. At the end of the phone conference, plans, activities, and group responsibilities were finalized. Theodore provided technical assistance and support with the Early Childhood Stakeholder Group. In collaboration with Dr. Dent, Dr. Jim Squires of CEELO, and SECC, group members were able to develop a draft of their plan for the focus area. Next steps include having groups discuss their plans with each other to ensure that each groups' plan is aligned, particularly since many of the focus areas overlap.

April

Kathleen Theodore, SECC project lead, and Debbie Mazzeo,RMC Corporation partner, held a phone conference with MDE Early Childhood Director Dr. Jill Dent to plan the agenda for the stakeholder group on April 29. As a result, a good working draft was completed, and clear roles and responsibilities for stakeholder group members were delineated. A follow-up conference call was also held on April 23, which included review of the agenda and activities for the meeting.

March

SECC staff, Kathleen Theodore and Angelica Herrera; RMC partner, Debbie Mazzeo; and CEELO staff member Jim Squires conducted several phone conferences with MDE Director of Early Childhood Dr. Jill Dent to plan the first monthly early childhood stakeholder group meeting. On March 27, Dr. Dent and SECC Project Lead Kathleen Theodore facilitated the first MDE Early Childhood Stakeholder Group Meeting. Participants included various stakeholders from the early childhood community. As a result of this meeting, participants were able to select from one of four focus areas of Mississippi's Early Childhood Strategic plan, select a chairperson, and review and discuss resources for their focus areas. The group will meet again on April 29. SECC and CEELO staff will provide technical assistance with planning the next meeting.

February

Kathleen Theodore, SECC program associate; Debbie Mazzeo, RMC partner; and Jim Squires, CEELO staff member, conducted a phone conference with MDE Director of Early Childhood Dr. Jill Dent to review and refine technical assistance needs for early childhood. Dr. Dent shared a draft of the strategic plan, which included plans for formulating an early childhood stakeholder group along with stakeholder group meetings to accomplish objectives for early childhood in the state. As a result of this meeting, the team will revise SECC's Year 3 Work Plan and activities for this project in Mississippi. In addition, the team provided Dr. Dent with resources to get her started with some of the activities.

January

SECC Program Associate Kathleen Theodore conducted a phone conference with MDE staff Dr. Jill Dent and Robin Lemonis. The purpose of the phone conference was to finalize plans for the January 30 Three- and Four-Year-Olds Guidelines Stakeholder Review Meeting. Theodore also facilitated the guidelines review meeting. Participants included various stakeholders in early childhood such as PreK teachers, principals, and directors of childcare centers, policy advisers, and others. The goal of the meeting was to ascertain feedback from each stakeholder (e.g., concerns, suggestions) on each component of the guidelines for three- and four-year-olds. Theodore facilitated several rounds of discussion to accomplish this goal. In addition, Theodore led the group in reporting out their feedback. After the meeting, Theodore met with MDE staff, Dr. Jill Dent and Nathan Oakley, to discuss the Year 3 goals and work plan. Next steps are for the SECC MDE Early Childhood team to revise the logic model and plan for technical assistance.

2014

December

SECC staff participated in a phone conference to plan for the MDE Three- and Four-Year-Old Guidelines Stakeholder Review Meeting. The meeting will include various stakeholders from the educational and public sector. SECC MDE School Readiness Project Lead Kathleen Theodore will facilitate this meeting on January 30, 2015.

November

SECC staff communicated with MDE early childhood staff on planning dates for Year 3 activities. MDE staff will provide information in December.

October

Due to work on the federal PreK expansion grants, SECC staff and the MDE communication focused on providing access to the virtual CoP site and Year 3 CoP activities.

September

Information on early childhood resources, the August CEELO e-Newsletter and an upcoming webinar on federal preschool grants, was shared with MDE staff. SECC staff also reviewed information from the MDE early childhood listserv. Due to scheduling difficulties, MDE delayed the September 29 date to review the 3- and 4-year-old early learning guidelines to a to-be-identified date and determined that SECC facilitation of this meeting will not be needed.

August

On August 8, SECC staff met with an MDE planning team to discuss the “Early Childhood” section of the Mississippi Year 3 Plan of Work. During the meeting, technical assistance was requested with facilitation of an MDE work group to review the 3- and 4-year-old early learning guidelines. The MDE and SECC collaborated in identifying September 29 as the date for the team review and SECC’s facilitation of that review. SECC staff will work with MDE in September to develop a plan of action for the team review.

July

The SECC continued to communicate with MDE regarding the identification of potential early childhood/school readiness work in which SECC could be of assistance to MDE's early childhood staff. The SECC staff also met with MDE staff to discuss potential school readiness/early childhood technical assistance requests for inclusion in the MDE/SECC Year 3 Plan of Work. A draft template of the early childhood work was emailed to MDE staff for review and feedback. Additionally, information on two upcoming early childhood webinars was shared with MDE staff: (a) New Early Childhood Indistar® Indicators, sponsored by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes; and (b) Engaging Families in the Assessment Process and Use of Data: An Early Childhood Example, cohosted by the REL Northwest and Islands and the REL Southwest.

June

As previously noted, MDE is in the process of hiring an early childhood director. Once this position is filled, MDE/SECC discussions of future school readiness work, including an MDE/SECC collaboration on early childhood/school readiness professional development opportunities, can be initiated. Resource information regarding the availability of the archived 4/17/14 Building Early Childhood Data Systems webinar, which was cohosted by the REL Midwest and the REL Southeast, was shared with MDE staff.

May

On May 13, SECC staff contacted MDE to follow up on the possibility of an MDE/SECC collaboration on future early childhood/school readiness professional development opportunities. Because MDE is in the process of establishing an early childhood office, which will include the hiring of a director, MDE requested to wait until the new director is appointed before proceeding with discussions of this proposed work. On May 21–22, SECC also participated in the first work session of the Alabama-Mississippi State Community of Practice, during which MDE and Alabama State Department of Education staff members shared information on key state initiatives, including the Early Learning Collaborative Act and the Mississippi K–3 Assessment Support System (MKAS2). Component 2 of the MKAS2, the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, will be used in all Early Learning Collaborative programs, and may be used by Title I or locally funded preK programs. The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment will include 27 reading questions and 27 math questions.

April

The April MDE/SECC conference call to discuss future early childhood school readiness professional development opportunities was canceled, at MDE’s request. Due to current MDE workloads, it was decided to postpone the discussion of MDE/SECC collaboration on the early childhood school readiness work until mid-May, at which time a potential time frame will be explored for the initiation of this work.

March

SECC collaborated with CEELO staff in conducting reviews of the 3- and 4-year-old teaching strategies and examples of mastery for the social studies domain March 10–18, and the social and emotional learning domain March 11–20. Written feedback was provided to the MDE March 18 and 20, respectively. It was noted to the MDE that the document reviews and the subsequent constructive feedback, did not constitute approval and/or endorsement of content contained within the documents. Also on March 18, SECC staff met with MDE staff to participate in a conference call with SECC management to discuss the status of Mississippi's school readiness/early childhood work and MDE/SECC’s collaborative school readiness/early childhood work.

February

Staff from SECC communicated with MDE staff to establish a date and time for a conference call to plan the next steps for moving the Mississippi school readiness work forward. A collaborative call between the MDE/Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and SECC was scheduled for March 4. The SECC school readiness team met on February 25 to prepare for the conference call.

January

Staff from SECC notified the MDE that SECC can support MDE’s request for assistance with strategies for its early learning standards by hosting and facilitating statewide team meetings to accomplish this work. A follow-up email was sent to the MDE regarding the identification of next steps to be taken to fulfill this request.

2013

December

In December, staff from MDE, CELLO, SECC, and RMC (SECC’s partner) participated in an Early Childhood Community of Practice conference call. During the call, MDE provided updates on Mississippi’s preK collaborative applications and next steps in the application process. Potential early childhood technical assistance requests also were discussed during the conference call. Staff from SECC staff will follow up on the request for additional SECC support in completing the 3- and 4-year-old teaching strategies and will contact MDE in January 2014.

November

On November 1, the meeting notes for the October 25 Early Childhood Technical Advisory Committee (ECTAC) were submitted to the MDE. On November 14, SECC staff spoke with Trecina Green, MDE, to inquire if follow-up technical assistance was needed with either the early learning standards or with the Technical Advisory Committee work. Mrs. Green indicated that no additional technical assistance is needed at this time. SECC Program Associate Debra Meibaum reiterated that SECC is available to assist with MDE's early childhood work. Mrs. Green will contact SECC when additional technical assistance is needed.

October

The MDE, CEELO, the Alliance for Early Success, SECC, and its partner RMC participated in an October 1 conference call to initiate plans for the first Mississippi Early Childhood Technical Advisory Committee (ECTAC). During the conference call, a draft agenda was developed and organizational roles were identified. On October 24, MDE and SECC staff discussed the direction that facilitation of the meeting was to take. On October 25, MDE conducted its initial ECTAC meeting. The SECC and RMC assisted with the meeting facilitation and note taking. Subsequent to the meeting, SECC, RMC, and CELLO collaborated in finalizing the notes to be submitted to the MDE on November 1. The SECC staff also finalized their review of sample state introductions to early learning standards documents.

September

During September, SECC completed its review of the examples of mastery and teaching strategies for MDE’s three- and four-year-old early learning standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, creative expression, physical development, and approaches to learning. The 12 documents were reviewed for content, flow, appropriateness, needed clarifications, and potential terms for inclusion in a glossary. Recommendations for three- and four-year-old glossary terms also were finalized. In October 2013, SECC will finalize its review of sample state introductions to early learning standards documents.

August

During August, SECC reviewed Mississippi’s 4-year-old early learning standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, creative expression, physical development, and approaches to learning. Examples of mastery and teaching strategies were reviewed for content, flow, appropriateness, needed clarifications, and potential terms for inclusion in a glossary. In September 2013, SECC will finalize its review of the 4-year-old standards and initiate its review of the 3-year-old early learning standards.

July

SECC continued to communicate with the early childhood/literacy specialist regarding a date that the strategies for the 4-year-old early learning standards will be submitted to SECC for review and feedback. MDE will notify SECC when the strategies are received. At that time, a date will be identified for SECC’s review and feedback.

June

SECC staff communicated with MDE to identify the date that the strategies for the 4-year-old early learning standards would be submitted to SECC for review and feedback. Because MDE currently is waiting to receive a working draft of these strategies, a definitive review timeline could not be established. Upon MDE’s receipt and transmission of the strategies to SECC, the time frame for SECC’s review and feedback will be revised accordingly.

May

During an April 7 MDE/SECC conference call, SECC assistance was requested in reviewing the strategies for the 4-year-old early learning standards that were recommended in April by the MDE committee of practitioners. Upon completion of the document, which is anticipated in the near future, MDE will email it to SECC for review and feedback. Assistance with reviewing the strategies for the 3-year-old early learning standards will be requested at a later date. MDE also requested future assistance with the development of statewide training for the3- and 4-year-old early learning standards.

April

SECC staff contacted the new early childhood/literacy specialist to initiate discussions regarding ways in which SECC could be of assistance with Mississippi’s school readiness work. Technical assistance was requested with reviewing the to-be-developed strategies for the three- and four-year-old early learning standards. Upon development, MDE staff will email the strategies to SECC staff. A timeline for reviewing the standards will be identified at that time.

March

On March 26, SECC staff emailed the MDE to ascertain if the timing was appropriate to contact the new literacy/early childhood specialist regarding future collaborative work. SECC staff was notified that it was a good time to contact the literacy specialist. Contact was made on April 1.

February

SECC staff met with MDE staff regarding review of the Mississippi Early Learning Standards for Classrooms Serving Three- and Four-Year-Old Children: Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Science, Physical Development, Creative Expression, and Social Studies. Feedback from SECC staff currently is being incorporated into the final document.

January

In January, SECC staff and partner staff reviewed the Mississippi Early Learning Standards for Classrooms Serving Three- and Four-Year-Old Children: Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Science, Physical Development, Creative Expression, and Social Studies. Extensive feedback was provided to MDE. Staff also studied the Birth–5 component of the State Literacy Plan to obtain an understanding of the direction of school readiness in Mississippi.

2012

December

On December 3, 2012, SECC staff met with key staff from MDE to identify ways in which SEDL might assist MDE through our new comprehensive center. A follow-up MDE/SECC meeting was conducted on December 13 to confirm specific milestones and timelines for technical assistance regarding school readiness to be provided during Year 1 of the SECC federal grant. On December 6, SECC staff collaborated with SECC partners in discussing next steps for the upcoming Mississippi work.

November

SECC staff collaborated with partner staff from RMC in sharing national, regional, and state-specific early childhood resources in preparation for the upcoming Mississippi work. On December 3, SECC staff will meet with key staff from MDE to confirm specific milestones and timelines for technical assistance regarding school readiness to be provided during Year 1 of the SECC federal grant.