Federal grant enables MSU-led study of early childhood data

Contact: Carol Gifford

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A recent $6.5 million federal grant is supporting a Mississippi State-led examination of best practices in early-childhood educational services.

Funding for the award comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to the Mississippi Department of Education and the university’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center.

The project involves the collection and application of statewide early childhood data to conduct research aimed at improving early-childhood outcomes. Both the delivery and effectiveness of services for preschool children will be examined, along with how early learning impacts long-term outcomes as children enter the K-12 system.

“Mississippi is committed to engaging in scientific research as an important vehicle to improve the quality of early childhood outcomes,” said Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi, NSPARC executive director.

“This project will allow us to determine the effectiveness of specific services to preschoolers,” he said, adding that state policymakers “will be able to use our research to strategically allocate resources that lead to better outcomes for our children.”

Parisi said Mississippi was among 16 states chosen to receive the grant from a national pool of 43 applicants. Specifically, it should allow Mississippi to enhance its capacity for providing data for research and evaluation that builds on earlier efforts establishing a secure data system necessary to study educational programming.

John Q. Porter, chief information officer in MDE’s Office of Technology and Strategic Services, said the federal award “will enable a level of collaboration never before achieved in Mississippi.

“We will use the grant to hire professionals to develop dashboard analytics and provide professional development to nurture a culture of data literacy and sharing from the pre-kindergarten classroom to college, university and workforce provider,” Porter said.

Parisi observed that NSPARC’s collaboration with MDE and other state agencies illustrates how the university’s academic and technical expertise continues to provide innovative solutions for complex education issues.

“Children and families will ultimately benefit from this collaboration,” Parisi emphasized. “Families will be able to make more informed choices about the services they want and the outcomes they expect.”

For more about NSPARC, visit www.nsparc.msstate.edu. Parisi may be reached at 662-325-9242.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.