This morning I had the opportunity to read to two different classes of Pre-k students and it reminded me of a study I had run into, but not read, gauging the quality of Georgia’s Pre-K Program.
It is forgotten sometimes but not every state has a public state-funded Pre-Kindergarten program. The goal of Georgia’s program is to provide pre-k services to all parents who desire their children to participate. As recently as the 2011-2012 school year, Georgia’s entire Pre-K program served as many as 94,000 including all settings, local school systems, private programs and Head Start Pre-K classrooms.
Georgia’s Pre-K Program is a public/private program funded by the Georgia Lottery. In FY 2018, Georgia’s state budget appropriated $364.8 million in lottery funds to the Department of Early Care and Learning to administrate Georgia’s Lottery funded Pre-K Program.
Approximately, 84,000 slots were funded under this appropriation. The program serves all income levels with no fees charged to families for participation.
How does Pre-k work?
Georgia’s Pre-k is based on a school-year model 180 days a year, with instruction for 6.5 hours a day. Classes are limited to 20-22 children with a lead teacher and assistant teacher. Lead teachers are currently required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or related field. Assistant teachers are required to have at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. A very elaborate set of classroom guidelines provide standards for classroom instruction, child assessment, and other program services.
Oversight is provided by Bright From the Start, in the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
Content standards are established and used as the foundation for instruction and assessment in areas such as language development, creative development, mathematical development, scientific development, social studies, physical development and social/emotional development.
Different school settings
Pre-K programs are offered by a range of providers including public/private elementary schools, secondary schools, postsecondary vocational technical institutes, private and state colleges, non-profit and for-profit child care learning centers, DFCS offices, Head Start Sites, hospitals, military bases and YMCA/YWCA facilities.
The public is free to choose the setting most aligned with their preference.
At least two individual conferences per year are conducted between staff and families and a book list is provided to encourage parents to read to their children daily. Local Coordinating Councils include parents, representatives from public and private providers, health officials, educators and representatives from the business community.
Legislature commissions study
In 2011, Georgia’s Legislature funded and required an evaluation of Georgia’s Pre-K Program. DECAL commissioned recognized experts at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct a series of studies to measure the impact of the Pre-K Program.
Four separate studies were conducted from 2011-2013 including a Longitudinal Study begun in 2013 and projected to conclude in 2018. The studies included:
Study 1 (2011-2012) Pre-K Outcomes Study
Study 1a 2012-2013 Pre-K Enrollment Study
Study 2 (2012-2013) RDD (Regression Discontinuity Design) Study
Study 3 (2013-2018) Longitudinal Study- Year 3 Intermediate study released May, 2017: http://decal.ga.gov/
To read the entire series of reports, go to http://fpg.unc.edu/projects/georgia-pre-kindergarten-evaluation
Next: What the study found
The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.