New Report: what does it take to get preschool right?
Posted on 06.30.2016, Thursday

North Carolina’s NC Pre-K Program is featured in a new report from the Learning Policy Institute that offers a snapshot at a few states who are “getting it right” when it comes to high-quality early education. The Partnership administers NC Pre-K  here in Durham.

There is a lot of existing research on the elements of high-quality preschool and its benefits, particularly for low-income children, but this report provides a rarer look at how policymakers can convert visions of good early education into reality within communities.

Across the state, NC Pre-K serves nearly 27,000 eligible 4-year-olds. In Durham, NC Pre-K serves 464 children. Here are a few highlights from the report as part of the North Carolina “snapshot” for high-quality preschool:

  • Class size is capped at 18
  • 100% of children attend full-day programs
  • Teacher-child ratio must be 1-to-9 or better
  • All lead teachers must have either: a bachelor’s in early childhood education, child development or a related field, as well as a birth-through-kindergarten teaching license or a preschool add-on teaching license
  • Provides rigorous coaching for teachers, including “observational assessments and support for first three years in classroom as part of licensure process, followed by annual observational assessments and professional development thereafter”
  • All children receive a health assessment when they begin the program
  • Teachers draft “family engagement plans” that include parent-teacher conferences and home visits
  • Uses a five-star rating system to evaluate all child care, Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs

The report also points out, however, that unlike the other states in the report (Michigan, West Virginia, Washington), North Carolina has been scaling back its commitment to public preschool. Funding peaked in 2009 at $188 million. In 2014-15, state appropriations and lottery receipts, combined, totaled just over $120 million.

This report shows once again that high-quality early childhood programs are making a big impact, and that a public commitment and investment in these programs is essential to our future. Please make your voice heard and learn how you can advocate and become a champion for young children here in Durham!