News

Educators tout the benefits of pre-k programs

preschoolA North Carolina legislative panel heard a mostly positive assessment Wednesday on the impacts of a quality pre-k education, with most education experts touting pre-k services as a major boon for students.

“We have a long way to go,” said John Pruett, director of the Office of Early Learning in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.  “There’s a lot of work to do but the state has tremendous opportunities in front of it, if that’s the direction the state wants to take.”

Multiple states launched public pre-k programs in recent years, and in North Carolina, at least one county is considering rolling out publicly funded pre-k too.

Pruett, who helms a DPI office aimed at promoting early childhood education, told members of the House Select Committee on Education Strategy and Practices Wednesday that most studies show a strong pre-k education yields higher test scores, improved graduation rates, reduced behavioral problems and, ultimately, higher earnings.

And pre-k could benefit the state’s at-risk children the most, he said, pointing out the program can help to lessen the achievement gap for low-income children in both reading and math testing.

Experts offered some caveats however, pointing out some studies have shown eventual convergence of test scores between students who attended pre-k and those who did not, the so-called “fadeout” effect.

Indeed, at least one skeptic suggested the data isn’t there yet to support a major ramp-up of pre-k in the state.

Vanderbilt University’s Mark Lipsey presented the findings Wednesday of his 2015 study, which found that Tennessee’s state-run pre-k program—which has helped pay for thousands of low-income children to attend pre-k in the last decade—has yielded questionable results.

While pre-k students initially scored higher than their peers, by the age of 6, their test scores were identical. And, by the age of 7, the pre-k children were actually scoring lower, Lipsey found.

Many responded to that controversial study by pointing out that it contrasts with most of the pre-k research in recent decades.

“I’ve been accused of hating children,” Lipsey said Wednesday. “But we have to figure out what accomplishes the goal. We can’t assume with a lack of evidence.”

However, Pruett told legislators that he believes the state must work to align the pre-k curriculum with that of the early school grades, in order to maintain the academic gains and combat “fadeout.”

Joan Lord, vice president of the Southern Regional Education Board, a compact of education experts in the southwest U.S., told legislators that North Carolina’s focus should mostly be on access to pre-k services.

Only about 40 percent of the state’s 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds attend pre-k in North Carolina today, which is a relatively low number in the U.S.

Lord also pointed out that it is “affluent” children who are more likely to use the services.

Check Also

Trump administration cracks down on food stamps; new rule expected to deny assistance to 700,000 people

Beware the moments when no one is focusing ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Students, faculty and legal experts are all questioning last week’s legal settlement in which the UN [...]

In addition to historic cemeteries and archaeological resources, state is concerned about asbestos, [...]

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is failing to ensure that all military families have access to safe, quali [...]

North Carolina Republicans officially ran out the clock – at least legally – when they enacted a new [...]

It may be difficult to say how you are feeling this morning, two mornings after a Superior Court pan [...]

Well, that appears to be a wrap. The 2019 legislative session that commenced way back in January and [...]

The post Sons of Confederate Veterans give thanks to UNC appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Donald J. Trump used the power of his office to blackmail a foreign ally into undermining a politica [...]