New study finds First Class Pre-K attendees more advanced than peers

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A new study released on Tuesday, on behalf of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education found children in Alabama who voluntarily participated in the First Class Pre-K program are more likely to be competent in reading and math than their peers.

“These findings prove that what we are doing in Alabama is working. Our First Class Pre-K program is second to none and our students are benefitting,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “Now we must work to take the methods of instruction in Pre-K and implement them into kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms. Success breeds success and a strong educational foundation is the basis for the success of all Alabamians in the future.”

The study also concluded that the program was notably effective with minority students and students from low-income families.

“The latest analysis of the First Class Pre-K program provides the clearest evidence to-date that participation in Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program is helping students succeed throughout their time in school, what is most exciting about this report is how the lessons learned in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K are persistent in every grade and in every race and ethnic group, with the most profound impact demonstrated by some of the state’s most vulnerable children,” added secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Jeana Ross.

The study, titled “Achievement Gap Closure and Gains Associated with Alabama’s First Class Pre-K,” was conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. The research team also observed that attendance in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program:

  • Narrowed the gap in reading proficiency by 28 percent for all children in poverty; 32 percent for White children in poverty; 31 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 26 percent for Black children in poverty.
  • Narrowed the gap in math proficiency by 57 percent for all children in poverty; 71 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; and, 37 percent for Black children in poverty.
  • Increased reading proficiency for children in poverty by 12 percent overall; 25 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 23 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 3 percent for White children in poverty.
  • Increased math proficiency for children in poverty by 13 percent overall; 17 percent for Hispanic children in poverty; 16 percent for Black children in poverty; and, 10 percent for White children in poverty.

The Alabama First Class Pre-K program is located in 941 classrooms across the state. The National Institute for Early Education Research has named the program the nation’s highest quality pre-k program for the past eleven years.

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