Grading Pre-k in Connecticut
As part of a $1.3 billion effort to improve pre-k programs in the state, Connecticut has begun funding a statewide assessment of the state's pre-k classes. The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) rates pre-k programs on a scale of 1 to 7 on the quality of space, furnishings, activities, and staff. Most of the 80 programs already assessed have gotten high scores. But these assessments may not be rigorous enough. As the University of Virginia's Robert Pianta has argued, assessments that measure spaciousness, class size, and teacher qualifications often fail to look closely at curriculum content and the quality of instruction in early education classrooms. Pianta and his colleagues found that only 25 percent of pre-k classes provide high-quality instruction that supports literacy skills, including reading stories. A greater focus on measuring teacher interaction is possible and crucial for efforts to improve pre-k instruction.
Lack of Funds Stalls Full-Day Pre-k in NYC
A spokesman for New York Governor David Paterson says the state has no plans to fund full-day pre-kindergarten in New York City. Currently, 54,000 NYC four-year olds are in pre-kindergarten programs, but only 14,000 are in full-day classes. The state universal pre-k program, which funds most pre-k programs in New York City, only funds half-day programs. The city hopes to expand its pre-k program to 75,000 slots and stresses that they should be in full-day classes to accommodate working parents. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has praised the push towards full-day pre-kindergarten as a promising alternative to traditional childcare and a way to boost student achievement in the later grades.
Getting Serious About PK-3
In the age of No Child Left Behind and an increased focus on accountability, too many policymakers fail to prioritize the PK-3 years as an important cornerstone for academic success all the way through college. In a new report, "PK Inclusion: Getting Serious About a P-16 Education System," Ruby Takanishi and Kristi Kaurez praise local efforts to implement PK-3 alignment despite slow action on the state and federal level. Too often, the authors say, kindergarten is little more than babysitting, and too many states do not require kindergarten attendance or fund pre-k programs. The report calls for increased awareness of PK-3 potential, more policy leverage to ensure universal early ed programs, and more training for early education instructors.