Early Learning Collaborative earns successful readiness rating


The Petal School District Early Learning Collaborative has received a “successful” rate of readiness determination from the Mississippi Department of Education based on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment is designed to provide parents, teachers and early childhood providers with a common understanding of what children know and are able to do upon entering school.

The purpose of the assessment is to improve the quality of classroom instruction for students based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

The assessment is broken into three parts to determine the rate of effectiveness for each collaborative, according to assistant superintendent and director of the Center for Families and Children DeDe Smith, including Mississippi K-3 Assessment Support System (MKAS), Learning Assessment Profile (LAP) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS).

MKAS and LAP each account for 25 points toward the readiness score. CLASS is worth 50 points of the score.

The MKAS portion of the assessment showed 95 percent of the Pre-K students attending Petal Primary School at or above 498 and that 90 percent of those students showed improvement of 98 points or more. The assessment also showed a 32.45 percent growth on the LAP assessment.

Approximately 64.29 percent of students at Charles H. Johnson Head Start scored at or above 498 on the MKAS, and 54.72 percent showed an improvement of 98 percent or more. The overall CLASS score for C.H. Johnson was 5.10, with an instructional support score of 2.98. The students also showed 12.47 percent growth on the LAP assessment.

Both sites received a successful score, with each scoring the highest possible on all three sections of the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.

The following is a breakdown of each section of the assessment:


The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 requires the Mississippi Department of Education to adopt a minimum rate of readiness for each pre-kindergarten provider participating in the collaborative much reach in order to remain eligible for funding.

A score of 498 is the literacy readiness score recommended for students at the end of Pre-Kindergarten. Students with a score of 498 at the end of Pre-K have mastered 70 percent of the early literacy skills needed and are said to be on track to earn a 530 at the beginning of kindergarten and meet end of grade three reading expectations.

However, Smith said they aim to prepare students to leave the Petal Early Learning Collaborative with a score of 530, instead of aiming for the cut score of 498.

Smith points out that many skills are required of a student to be prepared for kindergarten in addition to literacy skills, including social and emotional development, physical development and health, language development and creative arts expression.

MKAS, the early literacy test, could earn the collaborative up to 25 points on the readiness assessment depending on percentage of students at or above 498 or the percent of students showing an average point gain of 98.

On the fall MKAS, 14 students in the C.H. Johnson and Petal Primary Pre-K classes scored at or above 498. Approximately 38 students scored at or above 498 on the winter assessment.



The next piece of the puzzle to determine kindergarten readiness is the LAP-3 assessment. It also accounts for 25 points of the score. The purpose of this is to assist teacher in assessing individual skill development in seven domains of development: gross motor, fine motor, pre-writing, cognitive, language, self-help and personal/social.

The results can help generate a detailed picture of a child’s developmental progress in the seven domains. This allows for the planning and implementation of developmentally appropriate activities.

LAP was designed to observe the development of individual children by providing tasks or situations typical of young children’s development that would interest the child and stimulate an observable response.

LAP-3 assesses 383 samples of behavior. The assessment is administered throughout the year at three different points and provides developmentally appropriate content.

“This is broader than academic development,” said Smith. “It hits developmental milestones and encompasses all pieces of the puzzle in readiness for school.”

Teachers begin with the 48 to 53 months section and continue through the assessment until children are unable to complete three or four tasks in a row. The teacher picks up where they left off on the next round.



The final piece of the puzzle is CLASS, which accounts for half of the points to determine the rate of effectiveness.

CLASS is an observation instrument developed to assess classroom quality in preschool to third grade classrooms. It is based on developmental theory and research suggesting that interactions between students and adults are the primary mechanism of student development and learning.

CLASS assesses three domains: emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support.

Someone is brought in to observe interactions between teachers and students. This part of the assessment happens in the spring only.

The emotional support domain encompasses positive climate, negative climate, teacher sensitivity and regard for student perspectives. Each is broken down and scored from low to high. For example, for positive climate, one would consider the relationship between the teacher and students, if he or she has a positive effect and positive communication and if teacher and child demonstrate respect for one another and score the teacher from low to high on each area.

Classroom organization is split into three areas, including behavior management, productivity and instructional learning formats. This domain scores teachers on things like their ability to be proactive about behavior problems, maximizing learning time and keeping with routine, preparation and teacher involvement and clarity.

Instructional support is comprised of concept development, quality of feedback and language modeling.

According to MDE, the spring 2017 Pre-Kindergarten Assessment for Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) showed the majority of pre-K students in Mississippi’s ELCs demonstrated they are prepared for kindergarten.

Approximately 77.9 percent of students in the state scored at or above the target score for exiting pre-K. The spring 2017 scores reflect a 6.5 percent increase over spring 2016, when 71.4 percent of pre-K students in ELCs scored at or above expectations for kindergarten readiness.

“Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives continue to show the impact of high-quality early childhood education and the powerful effect it has on student achievement,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I am proud of the work of all of the teachers, administrators and pre-K students. High-quality early childhood education programs are one of the most effective ways to give children a strong start to school and life.”

Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 established the ELC program, which provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, support and facilitate the successful implementation of quality early childhood education and development services. The Legislature provided $3 million in the first three years for the ELCs, and increased funding to $4 million in 2016.

The ELC program in 2016-17 funded 10 collaboratives comprised of 51 sites that served 1,645 children.

All 10 ELCs earned an average Pre-Kindergarten Assessment score that surpasses expectations for what students should know and be able to do when they enter kindergarten.