Legislative report questions Mississippi preschool program

JACKSON, Miss. — A new report from a legislative watchdog agency questions how education officials are running a program to fund preschool classes for some Mississippi 4-year-olds, and says students in those classes performed worse in 2014 than students in other prekindergarten classes taught by public school districts.

The Mississippi Department of Education, though, sharply questions the findings by the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review in the report released Wednesday.

Mississippi has spent almost $9 million over the past three years to fund 11 early-learning collaboratives — groups of school districts, private preschools and Head Start programs that work together with the aim of widening access to preschool in various areas. The 11 groups served about 1,600 students during the 2014-2015 school year, their first full year of operation.