There are numerous case studies that support the value of early education expansion and the creation of high-quality preschool programs for early learners, particularly for students that would otherwise be marginalized in the public school system. These programs are deemed high-quality because of the presence of a number of factors, including highly trained and well-compensated teachers, full-day program availability, smaller class sizes and student/teacher ratios, evidence-based instruction and professional development for the staff, and comprehensive services, particularly for low-income students and students with specialized educational needs.
Good News and Bad News for Preschool Programs
The good news: according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, all but four US states have adopted early learning programs to provide high-quality preschool options for all four-year old students from low- and moderate-income families. The bad news: although several national education policy initiatives have increased funding to preschool programs throughout the United States, the number of enrollments in a high-quality preschool program remain low. According to one article published by EducationNews.org,
“Currently, only 41% of all four-year-old young people and 16% of three-year-olds in the US are enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs such as Head Start or special education, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.”
What We Know About Successful Preschool Programs
One recent case study identified two major factors in creating a successful preschool program – 1. aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3, and 2. use of an individualized, or differentiated, instructional model. Aligning instruction across a span of 5 years required coordination of everything from learning standards to curriculum, and even communication with families. The use of individualized instruction also meant incorporating everything from small group instruction to making necessary modifications and accommodations based on each student’s learning needs. The findings of this particular case study can be used for modeling new preschool programs to maximize successful outcomes for students.
New Grants and the Pay for Success Model
One recent grant initiative put into place late last year is the Pay for Success grant, which offered $3 million in compensation for positive outcomes from early education preschool programs. As noted in this Press Release from the US Department of Education, eight entities (including one state department of education, public school districts, charter school districts, and other early education companies) were selected to participate in the grant opportunity. These entities will measure outcomes such as improved kindergarten readiness, achievement in reading and math, and improved social and emotional skills for young learners who attend these preschool programs. The participants will also study whether or not social and emotional skills are indicative of future school success, and other financial and societal benefits.
If your child is entering preschool or kindergarten soon and you want to find out if he/she is ready, call the preschool and kindergarten readiness experts at Club Z! at 800-434-2582.