AMORY, Miss. (WTVA) -- It's a problem that many across the state have tried to tackle in many ways.
But right now, separate bills in the Mississippi Legislature are being introduced to tackle the problem.
Dr. Cathy Grace is well-known across the state for her efforts to improve early childhood education.
Right now she is employed by the Gilmore Foundation in Amory, putting in place pre-K programs in Amory and Monroe County.
But Grace said she hopes state-funded pre-K for kids will become a reality before the end of this legislative session.
She says it's money greatly needed because in two years, there will be a national assessment of children's skills from K through 12.
She says a statewide investment will help students to meet those higher expectations.
"It's going to be much more rigorous. It will involve a different type of teaching strategy and also a different [way to] answer questions: more problem solving. Children will have to write their answers," Grace said. "It won't be a multiple-choice bubble-in type test. And it really, really will require children knowing how to think and problem solve at a much-earlier age."
Grace is hoping that one of two bills now being discussed in the Legislature will pass, creating what she calls a collaborative situation across the state where agencies involved with pre-K will work together.
A similar bill did pass during former Gov. Haley Barbour's administration, but Grace says there was no money to back it.
Both bills, she says, are now being discussed in the House and Senate and will contain information based on the latest research to help four year olds.
"[It's] through a collaborative model, which means that for any one to access the funds they will have to come together at the community and develop an application. And that would include HeadStart, private providers and public or private schools all coming together to make a plan," Grace said.
Grace said the Gilmore Foundation in Amory is already putting its money where its mouth is by spending millions in the area to fuel the pre-K effort. Now she hopes the state will.
According to a recent Time magazine report, Mississippi remains the only state in the South that does not have state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs.