MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program has been named the highest quality of its kind in the nation, the governor’s office announced Wednesday
This is Alabama’s 13th consecutive win for this title. Alabama is one of only three states to exceed the requirements provided by NIEER to measure a program’s quality.
“For a child to reach their fullest potential later in life, they must first build a strong foundation. I’m proud that Alabama First Class Pre-K is once again proving to be successful in providing that solid ground for our youngest learners,” Ivey said. “From our state’s historic investment in this program to Secretary Jeana Ross’s unmatched leadership, Alabama is setting the tone for early childhood education around the country. Other states know that Alabama’s students are getting off to a very strong start, and if they follow Alabama’s lead, then they, too, can do the same for their students.”
According to the Public Affairs Research council of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, students enrolled in a First Class Pre-K Program are more likely to excel in math and reading regardless of their demographics or school.
There are 1,045 Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms in the state that only allow the enrollment of 32 percent of four-year-old's in Alabama. If the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s business led Pre-K Task Force can push lawmakers to approve a $25,000,000 expansion it will create approximately 240 additional classrooms.
“As Alabama continues to expand access to high-quality, voluntary pre-k for four-year-olds, the Department is committed to ensuring the highest quality early learning experiences,” said Secretary of Early Childhood Education, Jeana Ross. “With the support of the Alabama Legislature and the strong leadership of Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama continues to lead the nation in growth and quality. We are constantly working to develop and implement policies that support program quality in early childhood settings.”
According to the evaluations in the National Institute for Early Education Research’s 2018 State of Preschool Yearbook, Alabama enrolled approximately 16,884 four-year-old’s during the 2017-2018 school year.
After last year’s rates, state officials have increased the programs funding to support 18,800 students during the current school year.
“We wish more states followed Alabama’s example of expanding pre-k enrollment with adequate funding, high quality, and demonstrated effectiveness,” said NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett, Ph.D. “Research finds the program yields long-term gains in achievement. If the state continues to invest, all Alabama’s young children can benefit in the near future.”
Ivey has already included an expansion for the education budget during the 2020 Fiscal Year to contribute to First Class Pre-K classrooms.