WHY IS FIRST-CLASS PRE-K IMPORTANT?
Since ninety percent of brain development occurs during a child’s first five years of life, early childhood experiences establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for everything that follows. High-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten (pre-k) for four-year-olds is an effective early childhood education program that prepares children to succeed socially, emotionally, and academically in kindergarten and beyond. Every $1 invested in high-quality pre-k produces a return-on-investment (ROI) of approximately $7.
Alabama currently has a nationally-recognized, top-tier pre-K program for four-year-olds in the state. This program has been recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for twelve years in a row for meeting all 10 of the Institute’s research-based benchmarks for quality. NIEER’s Quality Standards Checklist represents a set of minimum policies needed to ensure the effectiveness of preschool education programs in preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond. However, only an estimated 44 percent of four-year-olds in Alabama have access to the program during the 2021-22 school year.
Alabama’s First Class Pre-K graduates are more likely to be proficient in reading and math on state assessments, less likely to be chronically absent from school, less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education services, and less likely to have a serious disciplinary issue.